Cholesterol is a waxy and fatty substance found in your cells and your blood. Although it’s typically considered to come mainly from your diet, your liver actually produces most of the cholesterol your body needs.
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There are two forms of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). The high-density lipoprotein is the healthy or rather ‘good’ kind of cholesterol. Some of its essential functions include helping your glands to make hormones, keeping your cell walls flexible, helping your cells to maintain their structural integrity, and allowing your liver to produce bile.
The unhealthy ‘bad’ kind of cholesterol is referred to as low-density lipoprotein. It can build up in the arteries and form waxy, fatty deposits known as plaques. So, this means that having too much low-density cholesterol can have a negative impact on your health.
COMMON HEALTH RISK FACTORS
Here are some of the common health risk factors associated with high LDL cholesterol levels and how they can be controlled through medication, diet, and exercise. Read on!
1. Damage your arteries
When you’ve too much low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the body, it can build up into plaques, potentially causing damage in your arteries. The plaque can:
a) Harden your arteries. Having hardened arteries means that your blood flow is limited all over your body. Your heart will have to work extra hard, which can result in heart disease and high blood pressure.
b) Narrow your arteries. This can limit blood flow as well.
c) Block the arteries. When blood clots form around a cracked part of a plaque, it can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
High cholesterol is also linked to peripheral arterial disease. It refers to diseases of blood vessels, which are outside the brain and heart. The fatty deposits usually build up along your artery walls affecting blood circulation, mostly in arteries that lead to the feet and legs, although the kidney arteries can be affected as well.
2. Damage your brain
Whilst cholesterol helps to develop and protect nerve cells, high LDL cholesterol can potentially result in plaque, which damages the brain. This leads to loss of movement, memory loss, strokes, and has been associated with an increased risk of dementia.
3. Create gallstones
Cholesterol is vital for bile production, which aids the body in breaking down foods as well as absorbing the nutrients. However, when there is too much cholesterol, bile forms into crystals and then create gallstones, which are usually very painful.
4. Type 2 diabetes
Persons with diabetes tend to have decreased HDL, sometimes increased LDL, and increased triglycerides. This enhances the likelihood of developing atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of cholesterol, fats, and other substances on and in the walls of arteries.
HOW TO CONTROL CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
The trick is to keep bad cholesterol levels down and good cholesterol up, and there many changes that you can make to your lifestyle and diet to do this. They include:
Moderate physical activity can significantly help raise HDL cholesterol. Whether you’re 5 or 35, physical activity is always a good choice. Even if you’re a senior there is a lot of tutorials and exercise videos for seniors you can try. With your health provider’s OK, consider vigorous aerobic activity for around 75 minutes per week, or moderate exercise for 150 minutes a week, as per the NHS guidelines.
Moderate physical activity can significantly help raise HDL cholesterol.
Whether you’re 5 or 35, physical activity is always a good choice. Even if you’re a senior there is a lot of tutorials and exercise videos for seniors you can try.
With your health provider’s OK, consider vigorous aerobic activity for around 75 minutes per week, or moderate exercise for 150 minutes a week, as per the NHS guidelines.
· Quit smoking and drink alcohol in moderation
Smoking and too much alcohol can result in serious health issues like heart failure, strokes, and high blood pressure, not to mention the fact they increase levels of LDL cholesterol. Studies have also shown that quitting smoking is associated with an increase in good cholesterol.
· Eat healthy foods
If you want to improve your heart health and reduce cholesterol, you need to reduce saturated fats and trans fats while adding whey protein, soluble fiber, and foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids.
THE FINAL VERDICT
High cholesterol can be damaging to the heart and lead to health problems, significantly shortening your lifespan. It is essential to maintain healthy habits such as quitting smoking, having a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
If you are concerned you may be at risk or have high cholesterol, consider working with a doctor to discuss ways in which you can address it to prevent any future health problems.
Do you suffer from high cholesterol? What things do you do to improve your health condition?
*Disclosure: Paid Collaboration with Dr Felix
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What a fascinating article. I had no idea that it was our liver that produces cholesterol! #KCACOLS
Lydia C. Lee says
Good post. I’m upping vegetables for a number of reasons at the moment. Seems to be yet another one! #KCACOLS
Ella @ Typical Mummy says
My mum is always concerned about her cholesterol levels so I will be sharing this with her. Thank you! #KCACOLS
Jo(a Rose Tinted world) says
Interesting post. There is still a lot that we need to learn about cholesterol, but all these are great ways to stay healthy. #KCACOLS
tracey bowden says
This is really interesting to know. So far, I don’t have high cholesterol but it is something I do worry about getting #kcacols
I think as we get older, this is something we all naturally start to worry about! #KCACOLS
Important that people take seriously the changes that they may have to make to their lifestyle as they get older. I’m actually kinda surprised my cholesterol is still OK #KCACOLS
Mummy and the Mexicans (Ruth) says
My parents have altered their diet quite considerably in the last few days, one of the reasons being my dad’s high cholesterol. Thanks for the interesting and informative article and useful health tips! #kcacols
Stelle Lang says
Healthy living and eating is especially important at the moment. Hopefully the supermarkets will get back to normal soon and we have the healthy options available #KCACOLS
Enda Sheppard says
Very informative and useful. #KCACOLS
I was not aware of the link between cholesterol and diabetes, but looking back on the people that I know, it makes sense now.
*NOT MEDICAL ADVICE* but when I worked at a natural health food store, there were a few supplements that my customers said really helped them control their cholesterol. Overall, exercise and a healthy diet seems to be the best preventative measure and can help during treatment.
Jenna Boden says
This is fascinating! I assumed my cholesterol would be fine as I’m vegetarian but it’s actually on the high side of normal. My GP said this is most likely to me eating eggs a little too often. So I’ve cut back on them in the hope of seeing that level reduce. #KCACOLS
Steve (Thediaryofdad) says
Such an interesting post. So important at this moment aswell given the extra time we are all spending at home and the lack of exercise that we continue to be careful with our health.