What leads to high cholesterol levels and what can you do to control them?

By success • 4 weeks ago • 667 views • 208 comments
What leads to high cholesterol levels and what can you do to control them?

Over the years, cholesterol has gained a very bad reputation. You hear the word and your automatic response is to run up the hill. But cholesterol is more complex than that.

Cholesterol is a chemical compound that the body needs as a building block to create the outer layer of cells and for hormones like estrogen and testosterone. It is a substance similar to wax, 80% of which is produced by the liver.

Once you eat a meal, the cholesterol in your food is absorbed by the small intestine, then metabolized and stored in the liver. Any extra cholesterol (more than necessary) consumed would build up inside the walls of the arteries in the form of plaque and make them narrow. It is recommended to limit dietary cholesterol as much as possible.

What are the types of cholesterol?

Cholesterol is transported from one cell to another using lipoproteins.

Cholesterol can be divided into three types:

1. LDL: low density lipoproteins

It is also called bad cholesterol because it leads to the buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries.

2. VLDL: very low density lipoproteins

Like LDL, they are associated with the deposition of plaque in the arteries.

3. HDL: high density lipoproteins

It is also called good cholesterol because it acts as a scavenger that carries LDL cholesterol from the arteries to the liver. The liver then breaks down bad cholesterol and throws it out of the body.

Excess fat and energy is stored in the body in the form of triglycerides, another type of lipid. High triglyceride levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Why is high cholesterol harmful to the body?

High cholesterol levels are associated with various life-threatening illnesses. Cholesterol turns into plaque, then builds up in the arteries of different organs. This decreases the blood flow to these organs, affecting their function. Diseases like atherosclerosis (build-up of plaque in the coronary arteries leading to heart attacks), transient ischemic attack or stroke (decreased blood supply to the brain due to narrowing of small arteries in the brain or arteries carotids blocked in the neck) and peripheral arterial disease (narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the legs) is due to high levels of cholesterol in the body.

How does cholesterol increase in the body?

Our body produces enough cholesterol required by the body and most of what we eat is all extra. However, the reasons for high cholesterol can be:

  • Genes: If your family has high cholesterol, you may also have it.

  • Medication: Certain medications like oral contraceptives and diuretics can increase cholesterol levels in the body.

  • Obesity: Obesity influences the liver to increase cholesterol levels in the body.

  • Diet: fatty and fatty foods rich in saturated and trans fatty acids can increase cholesterol levels.

  • Smoking and alcohol: These two things decrease the level of HDL and increase the level of LDL in the body.

How can you control your cholesterol level?

You can control the levels of bad cholesterol in your body by limiting foods high in saturated fats such as cheese, fatty meats and sweet desserts. Instead, you can switch to high-fiber foods, such as oatmeal, beans, and green vegetables. You can include healthy unsaturated fats such as olive oil, nuts and seeds in your diet.

You should exercise daily to prevent obesity, which not only increases your bad cholesterol levels, but also the risk of heart disease and stroke. According to studies, a person should do half an hour of moderate intensity exercise each day, such as brisk walking or cycling.

You should stop smoking because smoking narrows blood vessels, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease. Limit your alcohol intake as this can increase the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in your body.

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