Cholesterol is a lipid fat produced by our bodies and contained in food substances such as lard, ghee, butter, cheese, coconut oil, yogurt and many more. It’s essential for good health and is found in every cell of your body. However, the flip side here is that having too much of it in your system is likely to cause multiple health issues.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) carries cholesterol up your liver to the cells of your body where it’s needed. However, if the level of LDL in your system is too high, it can form fatty deposits in your arteries, and this raises your possibility of developing cardiovascular diseases as well as stroke. For this reason, LDL is widely known as 'bad’ cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) does the exact opposite of LDL; carrying cholesterol from areas of the body where it is not needed and 'dumping’ it. It does this by transporting the compound from the tissues to the liver. The liver will secrete the cholesterol in bile and most probably convert it into bile salts, which are not harmful to your body. Because HDL's role is to make sure cholesterol does not build up in blood vessels, it reduces your chances of falling to stroke and heart diseases . Due to these qualities, HDL is widely referred to as 'good’ cholesterol.
Am I At Risk?
The risk of prevalence of high cholesterol levels is a lot more than people assume it to be. According to the Centers for Disease control, 73.5 million of Americans have the bad cholesterol in their systems. This translates into almost a third of the population of the USA. As if that is not worrying enough, more than 50% of those affected are not taking measures to deal with the problem. These figures indicate a worryingly casual attitude towards a condition that could cause fatal cardiovascular complications.
With the rates of prevalence so high, it would be normal, even healthy, for you to worry whether or not you have the right amounts of the good cholesterol in your body. There are many different factors that can cause high cholesterol they include:
• Unhealthy Diet
Snacking on foodstuffs with high cholesterol is always going to be a problem and is the chief cause of a spike in cholesterol levels. The average man should eat no more than 30g of saturated fat a day and 20g of saturated fat for women. Drinking and smoking amount to unhealthy lifestyles because alcohol is known to increase the bad cholesterol while cigarettes block the transportation of cholesterol to the liver. This leads to narrowed blood and tissue fluid pathways, which could spell a disaster in the making.
• Lack of Exercises
The 'couch potato’ lifestyle leads to the accumulation of fats, mostly in the belly and abdominal areas.
• Pre-existing Conditions
There are some underlying conditions that could manifest themselves in the form of unhealthy cholesterol levels. They include hypothyroidism, liver and kidney diseases, hypertension and diabetes. One of the easiest solutions in this case would be to treat those conditions first.
If your family tree has someone that got diagnosed with stroke or Coronary Heart Disease and is below 60 years of age, then you are highly likely to experience the condition. Your own risk of suffering from high bad cholesterol levels actually increases with age, and men are more prone to it than women.
What Should I Do?
Just to be on the safe side of things, get in touch with your doctor and have them check you. Should you find that you are at risk or already affected, take the following measures right away:
• Eat healthy
Start a food regime and keep it balanced. Avocados, almonds and walnuts will give you the right fats. Instead of snacks and yogurt, go for skimmed milk and lean meat. Stay away from cheese, whole milk and organ meat. If you have to drink alcohol, moderate your intake. Quit smoking.
• Exercise a little
Here, you absolutely don’t need to break sweat at the gym. 30-60 minute exercises done daily will get the job done for you. Ride a bike, walk a local trail, jog in the morning-anything to keep your metabolism rate up there.
• Lose some weight
Studies indicate that shedding 6-12 pounds (if you are obese) can go a long way toward helping you lose bad cholesterol.