Gaining knowledge about cholesterol can be beneficial in comprehending high cholesterol levels in the blood. Cholesterol is a type of waxy, fat-like material that is present in all cells of the body. Your physique requires a modicum of cholesterol to form hormones, vitamin D, and elements that assist with gastrointestinal consumption. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. Nonetheless, certain foods contain cholesterol. Cholesterol passes through the circulatory system in tiny parcels called lipoproteins. These bundles have lipids as their internal component and proteins as their external structure.
Lipoproteins are the substances that take cholesterol round your body and there are two types, LDL and HDL which stand for low-density lipoproteins and high-density lipoproteins respectively. It is important to maintain a balanced amount of both kinds of lipoproteins.
LDL cholesterol sometimes is called “bad” cholesterol. An elevated LDL leads to a concentration of cholesterol in your arteries. Blood vessels that transport blood away from the heart towards the body are called arteries.
HDL cholesterol sometimes is called “good” cholesterol. The reasoning behind this is that it facilitates the transportation of cholesterol from other areas in the body back to the liver. Your liver removes the cholesterol from your body.
What Is High Blood Cholesterol?
Your blood has a high amount of cholesterol when you have high blood cholesterol. In general, the disorder typically does not display any warning signs or indicators. Consequently, a lot of individuals are unaware that their cholesterol numbers are too high.
Individuals with high cholesterol levels are more likely to experience coronary heart disease, also referred to as coronary artery disease. The HIGHER the LDL cholesterol levels in your bloodstream, the HIGHER the risk of developing coronary heart disease. If the HDL cholesterol level in your blood is high, it diminishes the chances of developing heart disease.
What Causes High Blood Cholesterol?
A number of elements can have an impact on the cholesterol concentration in your bloodstream. You can control some factors, but not others.
Factors You Can Control
Cholesterol can be found in foods that originate from animals, such as egg yolks, meat, and dairy products. Some foods have fats that raise your cholesterol level.
An illustration of this is saturated fat increases your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol more than any other food item consumed. Fat that has been saturated is discovered in various kinds of meat, dairy, chocolate, baked goods, and fast and pre-packaged foods.
Trans fats boost LDL cholesterol while reducing HDL cholesterol. Vegetable oil is hardened by the addition of hydrogen to create trans fats. Some fried and processed foods contain trans fats.
Eliminating foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fats can assist you in managing your cholesterol levels.
Physical Activity and Weight
Lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain. Carrying excessive weight usually results in a high LDL count, a low HDL count, and a heightened overall cholesterol count. The amount of cholesterol in your blood, which includes both Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) and High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), can be determined through a total cholesterol test.
Regular exercise can assist with weight reduction and lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Exercising regularly can increase your HDL cholesterol level.
Factors You Can’t Control
High blood cholesterol can run in families. A disorder that is passed down from parents to children, known as familial hypercholesterolemia, leads to horrendous LDL cholesterol levels. This condition is acquired genetically, passed down from parents to their children, and is present right from birth. It can lead to a premature heart attack.
Age and Sex
Beginning in adolescence, males typically possess decreased levels of HDL cholesterol compared to females. As people grow older, they may find that their levels of LDL cholesterol increase. Prior to reaching 55 years old, females typically have lower LDL cholesterol than males. Nevertheless, after the age of 55, women can have higher bad cholesterol levels than men.
How Is High Blood Cholesterol Diagnosed?
Your doctor will determine if you have elevated cholesterol in your bloodstream through a blood test. A lipoprotein panel, a type of blood test, can be used to determine your cholesterol levels. Prior to the assessment, you should skip meals and only drink water for a period of 9 to 12 hours.
The lipoprotein panel will give your doctor information about your:
- Total cholesterol. Total cholesterol is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol in your blood, including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
- LDL cholesterol. LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol is the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockages in the arteries.
- HDL cholesterol. HDL, or “good,” cholesterol helps remove cholesterol from your arteries.
- Triglycerides (tri-GLIH-seh-rides). Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood. Some studies suggest that a high level of triglycerides in the blood may raise the risk of coronary heart disease, especially in women.
If doing a lipoprotein panel is not doable, an indication of your cholesterol levels can be obtained from your overall cholesterol level and HDL cholesterol.
Checking both total and HDL cholesterol levels does not necessitate fasting beforehand. If the amount of cholesterol in your blood is 200 mg/dL or more, or if your good cholesterol (HDL) is less than 40 mg/dL, your physician is likely to advise that you get a lipoprotein test. The level of cholesterol in the blood is expressed as the quantity, in milligrams, per deciliter of blood.
Triglycerides also can raise your risk for heart disease. If your triglyceride reading is at or above 150mg/dL, you may require medical attention. Levels greater than 200mg/dL are considered high, in which case treatment is necessary.
Ways To Take Control Of High Cholesterol
Discover ways to reduce your cholesterol levels with the help of advice from professionals.
Cut Back On Saturated Fat
Saturated fat, which can be found in such items as meats, butter, and various processed foods, is transformed by the liver into cholesterol. If your cholesterol is too high, Marisa Moore, RD suggests consuming no more than 7% of total calories in saturated fat. Most individuals will consume 15-20 grams of saturated fat every day. She suggests selecting lean cuts of meat and poultry and avoiding those with skin, and maintaining portion sizes at approximately the size of a standard playing card. If you take away as little as possible when it comes to saturated fat intake, it is possible to reduce your cholesterol levels by up to 20 points after 6-8 weeks, according to the expert.
Eat More Fiber
Eating foods that are derived from plants, such as oats, beans, barley, and asparagus, is important for your health, as the dietary fiber found in these foods can help reduce cholesterol levels, particularly soluble fiber. The majority of Americans consume a mere 12 to 14 grams of fiber daily, significantly lower than the advised amount of 25 to 35 grams. Fiber lowers cholesterol in several ways, Moore says. It takes in fluid and expands in the stomach, rising your sensation of satiety. Furthermore, soluble fiber turns into a gel-like substance when it is dissolved in the gut. The gel subdues cholesterol molecules before they can enter the bloodstream.
Moore suggests incorporating an item containing soluble fiber into one’s diet on a daily basis. It has been determined that when people consume 7 grams of soluble fiber on a daily basis, it can lower their cholesterol levels and possibly reduce the likelihood of heart disease. This suggests that having a greater quantity of this fiber is advantageous.
Cook With Olive Oil
Olive oil is widely used in the Mediterranean region, and its benefits are obvious. Individuals living in Greece, Spain, and other areas around the Mediterranean Sea have a lower chance of passing away from cardiovascular disease compared to Americans, even when their cholesterol is significantly elevated. The use of olive oil along with other monounsaturated fatty oils, such as canola and sunflower, has been shown to lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) without lessening amounts of good cholesterol (HDL) simultaneously. Moore states that extra-virgin olive oil is packed with phytochemicals that help block cholesterol from adhering to the walls of arteries.
Olive oil isn’t medicine, of course. This food is still composed entirely of fat, so it can add a high amount of calories to what you eat. Using this item instead of butter or other fats in one’s diet is the goal, not having it be an added element.
Try A New Margarine
Standard margarine is typically created with hydrogenated fats, which can be as detrimental to cholesterol levels as saturated fats. Dr. David Capuzzi claims that margarine has the same potential for being detrimental to one’s health as butter. But there is a healthful alternative. Certain types of margarine, like Benecol, include plant sterols which are substances that block cholesterol absorption and keep it out of the bloodstream. Using margarine with plant sterols can cause a decrease of up to 15% in your low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
Make Over Your Protein
The majority of the fat that is saturated in the American diet is sourced from animal products, meaning any individual with elevated cholesterol levels should look into how much meat they are consuming in their dishes. Capuzzi suggests that individuals should consume no more than 5 to 7 ounces of animal protein on a daily basis. He recommends eating organ meats only on special occasions.
Put Fish On The Menu
Fish is a nutrient-rich food that offers up omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial fats that have been proven to decrease LDL and triglyceride levels in the blood, both of which are detrimental to heart health. Additionally, these fats also have the capability of increasing HDL levels as well. Moore states that species of fish that have a high-fat content, like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, contain the most omega-3s.
Don’t Shy Away From Eggs
A long time ago, eggs were considered culprits for unhealthy diets, and they were restricted from many diets aimed at keeping hearts healthy. Research has restored the good name of eggs. Research conducted by Capuzzi documented that two sets of individuals followed a diet consisting of low-calorie and low-fat food items. One group had two eggs every day, whereas the other group did not consume any eggs. At the 12-week mark, both sets of individuals had comparable levels of LDL and HDL. “The eggs didn’t adversely affect lipid levels,” says Capuzzi. “People shouldn’t be afraid of eggs. It is beneficial to include eggs in one’s diet, but it is important to remember to consume them in moderation to get the maximum amount of protein.
A nutty-tasting seed, flaxseed is loaded with cholesterol-lowering omega-3s. Moore says this food is high in soluble fiber and phytoestrogens, which are beneficial for managing cholesterol. “Don’t use flax oil,” she adds. If you don’t consume the seeds, you are not getting the dietary fiber and the plant-produced estrogens; additionally, the oil contains significantly more calories than the seeds, and if you use an abundance of it, you may put on weight and therefore increase your cholesterol. Whole or grounded flaxseed can be purchased at health food stores and the majority of supermarkets. If you purchase the entire form of the item, grind it up yourself; the full seeds will not be broken down when they are digested, according to Moore.
Follow The “Rule Of Five”
Certain breakfast cereals, in particular those that are full of sugar, lack fiber, while others offer a significant amount. Check the labels. Moore recommends buying cereals that have a minimum of 5 grams of fiber per portion.
Enjoy Whole Grains
Limit refined grains in your diet. A majority of the fiber has been removed from these items during the preparation process. In contrast, whole grains are packed with it. A section of whole wheat bread, for example, contains 2 to 3 grams of fiber, which is triple the amount of a portion of white bread.
Switch To Brown Rice
It may take more time to prepare, however brown rice is higher in dietary fiber and contains more rice bran oil that is believed to possess cholesterol-decreasing powers, according to Moore. You can purchase pre-cooked brown rice, which takes less time to prepare.
Snack On Nuts
Although nuts are high in fat, they are an excellent choice for a nutritional snack that contains a great amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Capuzzi states that if saturated fat is substituted with the so-called “healthier” fats in the diet, there can be an important decrease in LDL. Studies suggest that consuming nuts can lessen the possibility of contracting heart disease.
Add Milk To Your Diet
Full-fat milk, cheese, and other dairy foods have a lot of saturated fat, but fat-free and reduced-fat dairy products do not. Research conducted has implied that the calcium present in a reduced fat diary can assist in controlling high blood pressure, according to Moore.
Add Mushrooms To Recipes
Research suggests that shiitake mushrooms can aid in reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels. You can find shiitake mushrooms in their dried and fresh forms at many health food stores and supermarkets. Cook them in a skillet for a nutritious and delicious addition to soups, stews, gravies, omelets, and stir-fries.
Crunch Into An Apple
Apples are rich in the soluble fiber of pectin. Specialists have discovered that pectin absorbs unnecessary cholesterol in your intestines, similar to how a sponge absorbs liquid that has been spilled before it can get into your bloodstream and cause blockages in your arteries. The pectin is then secreted, causing the fat and cholesterol to be removed as well.
Drink Green Tea
Moore claims that polyphenols, which are rich in antioxidants, could stop the building up of plaque inside the arteries. Green tea, which endures minimal processing, contains more protective elements than black tea.
Add Soy To Your Diet
Asian food is a standard part of their diet is likely why heart ailments are fewer in Asian countries in contrast to the United States. Foods that are produced from soybeans, such as tofu, tempeh, and soymilk, have chemical compounds known as isoflavones that seem to lower the amount of cholesterol that the liver produces. Consuming approximately one ounce of soy protein on a regular basis can decrease total cholesterol levels by approximately 10 percent. Capuzzi states that soy is an excellent replacement for animal protein. To incorporate more soy in your diet:
- Eat whole soybeans. They contain more beneficial compounds than processed soy foods. Soak the dried beans overnight, drain the water, and then cook them in a covered container for 2 to 3 hours. If this sounds like too much work, eat edamame (green soybeans), a favorite snack in Japan that is now available in specialty grocery stores in the United States.
- Add tofu to recipes. It has little flavor of its own, but it absorbs the flavors of other ingredients. Tofu is commonly added to stews, casseroles, and stir-fries in place of cheese or meat.
- Try tempeh. Along with miso, it’s a fermented soybean product with a slightly smoky taste—and it’s exceptionally high in isoflavones.
- Make a soy smoothie. A delicious way to get more soy in your diet is to blend 1 to 3 ounces of tofu, a variety of fresh fruits, and 1 cup of soymilk.