You’ve probably heard about high and low cholesterol, especially regarding food or your health. But what do you need to know about high cholesterol, and why is it important?
Cholesterol is a fat-like waxy substance present inside the body. The cells of our body utilize this substance to generate essential nutrients, digestive fluids, Vitamin D, hormones, and bile. While cholesterol is vital, high cholesterol levels, also known as hypercholesterolemia, are associated with several heart diseases. When present in massive amounts, cholesterol tends to accumulate inside the lumen of the blood vessels, predominantly coronary vessels, which supply the heart muscles. Accumulated cholesterol blocks the vessels leading to several cardiovascular diseases.
Causes of High Cholesterol
Cholesterol flows through the blood with the help of special lipoproteins.
- Low-density lipoproteins, also known as bad cholesterol, are the kind of cholesterol that results in atherosclerosis.
- High-density lipoproteins, also referred to as good cholesterol, work to bring the excess cholesterol in the blood into the liver, where it can be stored or processed.
Two factors can result in high cholesterol: modifiable and non-modifiable. We can change modifiable factors, such as diet, alcohol use, tobacco use, and stress levels. Non-modifiable factors are things we cannot change, such as age or genetic predisposition.
Other causes include medical conditions such as:
- Chronic kidney disease
Risk factors for High Cholesterol
Doctors typically lookout for specific risk facts that can increase cholesterol levels. These include:
- Unhealthy diet
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol consumption
- Decreased physical activity
Complications of High Cholesterol
Hypercholesterolemia or high cholesterol levels are associated with increased risks of multiple life-threatening diseases. These include coronary heart disease, stroke, and atherosclerosis.
Natural Ways to Lower Cholesterol
There are multiple ways to lower cholesterol levels. If your cholesterol levels are high, your doctor may talk to you about options. Typical steps to take include the following.
Eat more oats and fiber
Eating more soluble fibers can help lower cholesterol levels. These substances bind to cholesterol and lower the risk of hypercholesterolemia and subsequent heart diseases. Fiber sources include foods like avocado, barley, apples, beans, potatoes, and flaxseed.
Avoid Trans Fats
Intake of trans fats is associated with an increased risk of high cholesterol levels and eventually cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Take vitamins and supplements
Your doctor may perform blood work to see if there are any vitamins or supplements that can help lower your cholesterol.
Exercising helps reduce weight and increase high-density lipoprotein levels, which aids in lowering cholesterol levels in the blood.
Tobacco use increases the risk of high cholesterol, so your doctor will help you find a way to quit.
Your physician might suggest a combination of changes to lower your cholesterol levels. Be sure to ask questions about lifestyle changes as well.