What Causes High Cholesterol? Learn How to Maintain Normal Cholesterol Levels
What causes high cholesterol? Cardiovascular disease is a leading health problem, not just in the US but all over the world. If more people knew the major causes of high cholesterol, they can find ways on how to prevent this from happening. Some people are even surprised that they have high cholesterol, maybe because they haven’t noticed the symptoms. It is considered as a silent killer that puts you at risk of developing heart diseases and stroke. Obviously, you want to have normal cholesterol levels, but in order to do that, you would have to make a few sacrifices and changes in your diet, lifestyle, and eating habits.
What is cholesterol? It is a waxy substance that can be found in the lipids or fats in your blood. Normal cholesterol levels mean that you just have enough in your blood to continue building healthy cells, generating vitamin D, and producing hormones in your body. When the cholesterol level gets too high, then this becomes a health problem. Too much cholesterol produces fatty deposits in your blood vessels, which makes it difficult for the blood to flow through the arteries. Heart complications happen because there is not enough oxygen-rich blood going to the heart. This also holds true for stroke, because there is not enough blood flow to the brain.
There are several factors as to what causes high cholesterol in your body. You may have inherited this condition from your family, or it may be the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. Sometimes, all it takes to treat and prevent high cholesterol is having a balanced diet and regular exercise, but for others, it may require long-term medication.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
Here are some of the major causes of having high cholesterol levels. Try to see if you are committing some of these unhealthy practices and habits. If you think that you have high cholesterol, consult your healthcare provider right away to learn more about how to maintain normal cholesterol levels.
A person’s regular diet is a huge risk factor why many people experience high cholesterol levels. A diet with lots of saturated fat and trans fat is proven to raise cholesterol level. These fats can be found in processed meats, animal products, fried foods, cheese, butter, and commercially baked foods like cookies, muffins, and crackers. Red meat and full-fat dairy products should also be lessened to control your intake of cholesterol. Also, when doing your grocery, always read the labels and ingredients and avoid the ones with partially hydrogenated oils.
Lack of Physical Activity
Are you always sitting on the couch for many hours every day? If you haven’t been physically active for a long time, then it would be difficult for you to maintain normal cholesterol levels. Regular exercise is good for boosting your HDL or good cholesterol and makes the LDL or bad cholesterol less harmful. Exercise also increases your heart rate, which keeps your metabolism running and burns those excess calories. There are a lot of health benefits that you can get from being physically active. Remember, the more physically active you are, the less likely you can become overweight.
What causes high cholesterol can sometimes be your lifestyle choice and habits. Smoking can reduce your HDL or good cholesterol level and cause a lot of serious health problems such as cancer, heart disease, gum disease, and many more. Constant smoking damages the blood vessel walls, which makes it more likely to accumulate harmful fatty deposits. Read more – Smoking as a Cause of Bad Breath
You are considered obese if you have a body mass index that is more than 30. This means that you are more likely to have lower levels of HDL cholesterol and higher levels of the bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol. Your risk of high cholesterol also increases if you have a large waist circumference of 40 inches and above for men, and 35 inches and above for women. Obesity is a growing health problem in the US because of poor diet, lack of exercise, and unhealthy lifestyle.
This is one cause of high cholesterol that you do not have any control. Some people are susceptible to having high cholesterol because they inherited this condition from their parents. If you have close relatives and family members who have high cholesterol, then you may also have it.
Some medicines can cause your cholesterol level to go up. Medicines such as beta-blockers, corticosteroids, estrogen, anti-depressants, immune-suppressants, and thiazide diuretics can increase your triglyceride levels and lower your HDL cholesterol. If you are taking any of these medications, your doctor will most probably check your cholesterol level and adjust your treatment to maintain your normal cholesterol levels.
Diseases and other health conditions can cause your cholesterol level to go up. Diabetes can increase your blood sugar level, which contributes to a higher LDL cholesterol and lower HDL. High blood sugar is very damaging to the artery linings. Other diseases that will affect your normal cholesterol levels are hypothyroidism, liver disease, and chronic kidney disease.
How to Maintain Normal Cholesterol Levels
Now that you know what causes high cholesterol, you should have a clearer insight on how to avoid this from happening. Although there are medicines and medical procedures that can lower cholesterol, prevention is still the best treatment for this type of health condition. The first step in maintaining normal cholesterol levels is to know your real health condition. You can visit your doctor to have a blood test and find out your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The CDC recommends adults 20 years and above to undergo the fasting lipid panel test, which is a blood test done every 5 years to assess your cholesterol level. Those who are overweight and are more susceptible to high cholesterol should be tested frequently, at least once a year. If your cholesterol level begins to go up, you have to start making some changes to your lifestyle. Here are some of the best ways to maintain a normal and healthy cholesterol level.
Eat Healthier Foods
Since HDL cholesterol is involved in carrying the cholesterol away from the arteries back to the liver for elimination, you need foods that can boost your HDL cholesterol. The normal cholesterol level means that you have high HDL level and low LDL and total cholesterol level. Foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can raise your HDL cholesterol level. Omega-3 fatty acids can also improve the ratio between the good HDL and the bad LDL cholesterol in the blood. Salmon, herring, and mackerel are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and they are also great for your heart health.
You have to limit foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat, which will definitely lead to high cholesterol level. Alcohols, sugar, and carbohydrate-rich foods should be lessened or consumed in moderation. Eat more fruits and vegetables because they are rich in dietary fibers that can lower cholesterol. Replace your usual snacks of potato chips and cookies with fresh fruits,
Since you already know that being overweight and obesity contributes to high cholesterol, you need to get moving and lose those extra pounds. Losing at least five to ten pounds can significantly reduce your cholesterol level. You can start by consulting a health care professional regarding the most suitable diet program and exercise routine that can help you lose weight safely and naturally. According to the experts, the ideal body-mass index or BMI should be between 18.5 and 24.9. Set your goals for long-term and make the hard sacrifices so you can take care of your health and maintain normal cholesterol levels.
Having a regular exercise is good for your overall health, especially when you are trying to maintain normal cholesterol levels. There are specific exercises that target the cardiovascular system. Most experts agree that cardio and aerobic activities are the most ideal when it comes to lowering your cholesterol. These exercises include jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing, and brisk walking. All you need is 30 minutes of exercise each day to get the full benefits. It will help raise the HDL or good cholesterol, which can boost your heart health and keep you away from health problems related to high cholesterol.
Don’t Smoke and Drink Alcohol Moderately
Avoid smoking. If you are a heavy smoker, there are therapies that are being offered to help you quit this health-damaging habit. Smoking increases the risk of heart disease and speeds up the plaque accumulation in your arteries. The only solution to reverse these effects is to stop smoking. Second-hand smoke is very damaging as well, so try to avoid exposure to it as much as possible. When it comes to drinking alcohol, studies have shown that drinking alcohol in moderation can help increase your HDL cholesterol level. Too much alcohol can only lead to various health problems and high cholesterol levels.
Those who have a genetic predisposition to having high cholesterol may have difficulty maintaining normal cholesterol levels even though the person has a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet. If your family has a history of high cholesterol, you just have to be extra vigilant with regards to your health. Doctors can also prescribe medications and supplements that can help lower your total cholesterol, but it is still important to lead a healthy lifestyle.