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How to Prevent Cholesterol?
There has been a sharp increase in various epidemics worldwide and high cholesterol is one of them. Having high cholesterol is seen as an extremely dangerous health ailment and is known to cause several other related health issues such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, hypertension etc. To understand how to prevent cholesterol and manage it, we must first understand what cholesterol is, what it does and how much of it our bodies need.
Before cholesterol prevention comes understanding what it is and what it does. Cholesterol is a waxy component, essentially a type of fat, that is necessary for the formation of cells as well as the synthesis of vitamins and other hormones in the body. Cholesterol is not in and of itself a harmful chemical; nevertheless, having too much of it in the bloodstream can be dangerous. There are two primary origins of cholesterol; all of the cholesterol that your body needs is produced by your liver and the remaining cholesterol in your body is generally obtained from the meals that you consume. Cholesterol is a form of lipid (fat) that contains both good and bad parts. Let’s take a detailed look at how these work and how cholesterol prevention can be done.
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Causes of High cholesterol
Your body cannot produce healthy cells without cholesterol, yet excessive cholesterol levels are associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If your cholesterol level is high, you have a greater risk of developing fatty deposits in your blood vessels. Cholesterol travels through your body coupled to proteins as it is transported by your blood. A lipoprotein is the name given to the product that is created when proteins are combined with cholesterol. There are different types of lipoproteins depending on what they are carrying among them. Here are the major lipoproteins:
- LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein (LDL). The so-called "bad" cholesterol known as LDL is responsible for moving cholesterol particles across the body. The narrowing and hardening of your arteries might be attributed to the accumulation of LDL cholesterol in the arterial walls.
- Lipoprotein with a high density (HDL). HDL, sometimes known as the "good" cholesterol, is responsible for removing excess cholesterol from the body and transporting it to the liver.
- Triglycerides are a kind of fat that may be found in the blood and are often measured as part of a lipid profile. Triglyceride levels that are too high are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Things that a person may control, such as not being active, being overweight, and eating poorly, all contribute to dangerously high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. These levels are made much more dangerous by these factors. There is a possibility that you are powerless to do anything about some of the contributing circumstances. It's possible that your body will have a tougher time doing things like getting rid of LDL cholesterol in your blood or breaking it down in your liver if your genes make it more difficult for your body to achieve such things.
There are also certain medical conditions and health ailments that can cause unhealthy cholesterol levels in people. Sometimes, medication for certain ailments can also cause high cholesterol levels. Always be sure to check your medication, especially when you take multiple medications together.
- Chronic kidney disease
- Diabetes and it’s medication
- Lupus and other autoimmune diseases
- Medication for acne, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease
Risk factors of high cholesterol
There are numerous risk factors that might raise a person's cholesterol levels. Genetics also play a huge role in determining whether or not you will be prone to increased cholesterol levels despite having a healthy weight and lifestyle. It is one of those causes that cannot be controlled or managed and has to be fixed by taking medication for cholesterol. Here are other risk factors that you should look out for:
- Poor diet: Consuming an inappropriate amount of saturated fat, trans fat, or both can lead to dangerous levels of cholesterol in the body. Saturated fats may be found in foods like fatty cuts of meat and dairy products with full fat. Snacks and sweets that come in a packet frequently include trans fats.
- Obesity: If your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or more, you have an increased likelihood of having high cholesterol.
- Lack of physical activity: The "good" HDL cholesterol in your body can be increased by engaging in physical activity and exercising for at least 30-40 minutes everyday.
- Smoking: Your amount of HDL, also known as the "good" cholesterol, may decrease if you smoke cigarettes regularly as it is filtered through your liver which hampers its function.
- Alcohol: Consuming an excessive amount of alcohol might cause a rise in your body's total cholesterol level especially when you drink daily. It also damages the kidneys significantly.
- Age: It's possible for even very young children to have high levels of cholesterol, although the condition is far more frequent in adults over the age of 40. As you become older, your liver's ability to clear your blood of LDL cholesterol declines which is what ultimately causes cholesterol.
These are risk factors that can be controlled or managed so you should make the most of them in order to maintain good health.
Complications of high cholesterol
Cholesterol prevention is extremely important because it is a serious condition that has the potential to give rise to more chronic illnesses as well as cause life threatening consequences. A huge amount of buildup of triglycerides and cholesterol causes plaque which forms on the arterial walls. This condition is known as atherosclerosis as must be avoided. Plaques are deposits that can build up in your arteries and decrease the amount of blood which normally is able to flow through them. This causes the body to receive less oxygenated blood and the brain takes this as a signal to increase the pressure of the blood flow. This can lead to a number of issues, including the following:
- This can cause massive chest pain that goes on for a long time. If your coronary arteries, which are the blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to your heart, are damaged, you may have chest discomfort, also known as angina, along with other symptoms of coronary artery disease.
- High cholesterol is among the leading causes of heart attacks in most patients. Plaques have the potential to rip or rupture, which can result in the formation of a blood clot at the plaque-rupture site. This blood clot has the ability to obstruct the flow of blood or break off and clog an artery farther downstream. If blood supply is cut off due to a clot, it results in a heart attack as blood flow towards the heart has been stopped.
- Having high cholesterol also significantly increases your chances of getting a stroke. A stroke is an emergency medical condition that manifests itself when a blood clot prevents blood from reaching a portion of the brain. When blood doesn’t reach the brain there is a lack of oxygen and the brain takes this as a signal to stop functioning. Strokes are highly unpredictable which makes them dangerous and difficult to treat.
Best ways to prevent high cholesterol
Your body is able to create all of the cholesterol it needs thanks to your liver. The liver does this by combining cholesterol and fat into a substance known as very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). As VLDL transports fat to cells located throughout the body, it undergoes a transition into the denser form of LDL, which is responsible for transporting cholesterol to the appropriate locations.
The liver also secretes HDL, which is responsible for transporting unneeded cholesterol to the organ later on. This mechanism, which protects against blocked arteries and other forms of heart disease, is termed reverse cholesterol transport, and it may be found in certain cells.
It's crucial to remember that the quantity of cholesterol that is produced by the liver varies according to the amount of food that is consumed. When your body takes in more cholesterol from the food you eat, the liver produces less of its own cholesterol.
Here are some strategies to lower your body's cholesterol levels and have a better, safer life.
1. Consume more monounsaturated fats
In contrast to saturated fats, unsaturated fats are good(as they contain one double chemical bond structure), they modify the way in which your body uses the fats. There is conflicting information on whether or not a low-fat diet is useful in lowering blood cholesterol, despite the fact that many people prescribe it for weight reduction. A diet that is rich in monounsaturated fats, such as the Mediterranean diet, has been shown in various cases to help lower levels of detrimental LDL while simultaneously increasing levels of beneficial HDL. According to study, monounsaturated fats may also lower the oxidation of cholesterol. The oxidation of cholesterol can cause a reaction with free radicals that contributes to the narrowing of arteries which can ultimately result in atherosclerosis or heart disease. The following are some excellent sources of monounsaturated fats and of polyunsaturated fat:
- olive oil
- a variety of nuts, including almonds, cashews, pecans, and macadamias
- canola oil
- nut butters
2. Focus on polyunsaturated fats and omega- 3
According to research, polyunsaturated fats lower LDL cholesterol, sometimes known as "bad cholesterol," and lower the chance of developing cardiovascular disease. Additionally, polyunsaturated fats have been shown to lower the likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. The polyunsaturated fat known as omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial to the health of one's cardiovascular system. They can be found in fish oil supplements as well as in seafood. Particularly high concentrations can be seen in fatty fish such as:
- deep water tuna like bluefin or albacore
- shrimp and other forms of crustaceans
Seeds and tree nuts, but not peanuts, are two more types of foods that contain omega-3s. All polyunsaturated fats are beneficial to one's cardiovascular health and may lower one's chance of developing diabetes or high cholesterol. Omega-3 fats are a form of polyunsaturated fat that provide additional advantages for the cardiovascular system as well.
3. Avoid trans fats
Unsaturated fats have undergone the hydrogenation process, which results in trans fats. This is done to increase the stability of the unsaturated fats in vegetable oils. The resultant trans fats are partly hydrogenated oils, as they are not entirely saturated (PHOs). They are solid at room temperature, giving items like spreads, pastries, and biscuits greater texture than unsaturated liquid oils. Trans fats are appealing to food businesses because of their improved texture and shelf durability. However, partly hydrogenated trans fats are processed in the body differently than other fats, and not in a beneficial way. Trans fats raise total cholesterol and LDL while lowering good HDL. avoid eating foods such as:
- Certain microwavable foods
- Fast foods that are fried
4. Consume more of soluble fiber
Soluble fiber is highly recommended because once they are consumed, they can be digested by the healthy bacteria that dwell in your intestines. These healthy bacteria require fiber for their own sustenance. Likewise, probiotics or beneficial bacteria, have been demonstrated in studies to help lower LDL levels. Soluble fiber can also assist and boost the advantages of statin medications, which are used to treat high cholesterol. Some examples of soluble fiber are:
- Oat cereals
- Beans and lentils
- Brussels sprouts
5. Ensure daily exercise
Exercising daily has numerous benefits and not only helps in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels but also helps to prevent various other diseases like obesity, cardiovascular diseases, risk of stroke, hypertension and type 2 diabetes. It is recommended that people who are at risk of high cholesterol or already have it should engage in moderate intensity exercises for 30-40 minutes daily. This helps bring cholesterol levels to normal and reduces plaque build up, LDL levels and triglyceride levels as well. It also increases HDL levels in the body.
6. Maintain a healthy weight for your body
Obesity or being overweight might make you more likely to have high cholesterol. Around 10 mg of cholesterol are produced each day for every 10 pounds of extra fat. The good news is that if you are overweight, decreasing weight can lower your cholesterol levels.
According to research, those who dropped between weight between
- 5-10% of their body weight had considerably lower levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol.
- More than 10% weight loss leads to dramatic decrease of cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Overall, losing weight lowers bad LDL and raises good HDL, which has a twofold positive effect on cholesterol. Determine a nutrient-dense and long-term weight loss strategy in close consultation with your physician.
7. Quit smoking & cut down on alcohol consumption
Smoking and drinking have a direct impact on your liver as it filters out the toxins that are consumed while smoking and drinking. Your liver is also responsible for producing healthy levels of cholesterol and this is severely hampered when you smoke or drink too much and cause damage to your liver. Tobacco use has been demonstrated to raise LDL, lower HDL, and impair the body's capacity to transport cholesterol back to the liver for storage or breakdown. Quitting smoking can help to counteract these consequences. 1-2 drinks per day on days when you drink may raise HDL cholesterol, depending on which drink you choose, and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. However, excessive alcohol use raises the risk of heart disease and affects the liver greatly.
8. Consider taking healthy supplements
In cases where all lifestyle changes do not make a significant difference it is recommended that people with high cholesterol consider taking supplements. A lot of studies suggest that fish oil and soluble fiber improve cholesterol levels and promote heart health and there are various supplements for these available in the market. Fish oil is extremely rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and reduces the risk of developing heart disease. psyllium, a form of soluble fiber, is also available as a supplement and it is known to effectively lower LDL levels in the body and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases that are caused by blocked arteries.
There are various ways of preventing and managing high cholesterol levels in the body and determining the causes of high cholesterol can help greatly in its prevention. High cholesterol is normally caused by having an unhealthy lifestyle, unhealthy food habits or genetics that are prone to developing high cholesterol. There are various complications that are associated with high cholesterol such as obesity, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes and all of these conditions have the potential to become fatal. High cholesterol can be prevented by eating more soluble fiber, healthy fats and working out regularly. Medication is also prescribed in order to manage high cholesterol. Reducing the risk of cholesterol is extremely necessary as it has the potential to become fatal.
What is the main cause of high cholesterol?
The main cause of high cholesterol is leading an unhealthy lifestyle, not getting enough exercise and eating junk food. High cholesterol can also be caused by genetics which are not factors that can be controlled. High cholesterol is caused by excess fat and increase in unhealthy cholesterol known as LDL in the body.
Will stress raise cholesterol?
Yes, unmanaged physical and emotional stress does have the potential to raise cholesterol levels in the body. Leading a stressful life can also cause emotional eating and craving junk food which directly impacts cholesterol levels.
Can high cholesterol be cured?
Yes, high cholesterol can be cured and managed with the right lifestyle changes such as eating healthy and exercising daily as well as medication. You must contact your healthcare provider and get a sense of how to best manage this condition.
Does drinking water lower cholesterol?
Yes, since a lack of hydration causes the blood to become acidic, this condition can cause an increase in the amount of LDL cholesterol in the body. If you consume a lot of water, your blood vessels will stay clean, and the extra cholesterol waste that has been building up in your body will be flushed out.
Does lack of sleep cause high cholesterol?
Yes, lack of sleep has been known to cause high levels of cholesterol in the body. Not getting enough sleep does not give the body time to heal and repair which leads to an increase in LDL levels and a decrease in HDL levels.
This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.