High cholesterol – causes, side effects and treatments at NaturalPedia.com

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 by

Cholesterol is a fatty substance (lipid) that is vital for optimal functioning of the body. Cholesterol is carried in your blood by proteins. When these two substances combine, they become lipoproteins.

The two main types of lipoprotein are:

  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – carries cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver, where it’s either broken down or passed out of the body as waste. HDL is referred to as “good cholesterol.”
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – carries cholesterol to the cells, but if there’s too much for the cells to use, it can build up in the artery walls, leading to various health conditions. LDL is known as “bad cholesterol.”

The body uses cholesterol to produce hormones and the bile acids that help digest fat. It takes only a small amount of cholesterol in the blood to meet these needs.

High cholesterol occurs when the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood are high enough to cause health problems.

High cholesterol is increasingly common with age and can be caused by dietary choices. Examples of foods high in cholesterol include:

  • Egg yolks
  • Shellfish like shrimp
  • Processed meats like bacon
  • Baked goods with animal fats like lard and butter

Any excess cholesterol in the bloodstream may pile up in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to various parts of your body, including the brain and heart. Blocked arteries can lead to serious health conditions.

Known side effects and risk factors for high cholesterol

High cholesterol itself has no symptoms, but it increases your risk of serious health conditions  such as strokes, heart attacks, peripheral artery disease, and other heart diseases.

High cholesterol levels are due to a variety of factors including:

  • Heredity
  • What you eat (diet)
  • Weight
  • Physical activity/exercise
  • Age and sex
  • Alcohol
  • Stress

The amount of cholesterol in the blood – both HDL and LDL – can be measured with a blood test.

Body systems harmed by high cholesterol

High cholesterol levels in the blood lead to the buildup of plaque in blood vessels throughout the body known as atherosclerosis. Over time, chronic high cholesterol can cause serious complications including the following:

  • Carotid artery disease
  • Coronary heart disease, including angina or heart attack
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Stroke

Food items or nutrients that may prevent high cholesterol

According to Harvard Health, the following food items actively decrease bad cholesterol levels:

  • Oats
  • Barley and whole grains
  • Beans
  • Eggplants
  • Okra
  • Nuts
  • Vegetable oil (canola, sunflower)
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Soy and soy-based foods
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Sardines
  • Fiber-rich foods

Treatments, management plans for high cholesterol

Avoiding excessive intake of fat in the diet helps manage bad cholesterol levels. In particular, it is helpful to limit foods that contain:

  • Cholesterol — from animal foods, meat, and cheese.
  • Saturated fat — found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, deep-fried, and processed foods.
  • Transfats — found in some fried and processed foods.

Besides diet, it is recommended to adjust your lifestyle to ensure a healthy balance of cholesterol in the body. These changes will reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack:

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet
  • Regularly exercise
  • Avoid smoking
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight

Where to learn more

Summary

High cholesterol occurs when the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood are high enough to cause health problems such as strokes, heart attacks, peripheral artery disease, and other heart diseases.

High cholesterol is increasingly common with age. Other risk factors include heredity, diet and lifestyle.

Sources include:

eMedicineHealth.com

NHS.uk

Healthline.com

MedicineNet.com

MedicalNewsToday.com

Health.Harvard.edu

EatingWell.com

Prevention.com

Heart.org



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