High blood cholesterol is a serious health condition that increases the risk of heart disease.
The higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk.
There are two main kinds of lipoproteins carry cholesterol in the blood.
One type is low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, which also is called the “bad” cholesterol.
It carries cholesterol to tissues, including the arteries. Most of the cholesterol in the blood is the LDL form. The higher the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood, the greater the risk for heart disease.
The other type is high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, which also is called the “good” cholesterol.
It takes cholesterol from tissues to the liver, which removes it from the body. A low level of HDL cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease.
Many factors can cause unhealthy cholesterol levels. Some of the factors cannot be changed but most can be modified.
According to researchers from the NIH, these four things may harm people’s blood cholesterol levels.
Some nutrients in the diet can increase LDL levels. One nutrient saturated fat, a type of fat found mostly in animal-based foods.
Another nutrient is trans fat, which is found mostly in foods made with hydrogenated oils and fats such as stick margarine, crackers, and french fries.
The third nutrient is dietary cholesterol, which comes only from animal products, such as egg yolks.
Researchers suggest that saturated fat raises the LDL cholesterol level more than anything else in your diet.
Diets with high saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol are the main cause for high levels of blood cholesterol and increase heart attack risk.
Excess body weight may increase the LDL level.
In addition, obesity or being overweight typically raises triglycerides and lowers HDL.
Having a healthy body weight may help lower the LDL and triglycerides while raising the HDL.
Research shows that blood cholesterol begins to rise around age 20 and continues to go up until about age 60 or 65.
Before age 50, men’s total cholesterol levels may be higher than those of women of the same age. But after age 50, the opposite happens.
Women’s LDL levels often rise with menopause.
The amount of LDL cholesterol the body makes and how fast it is removed from your body is determined partly by genes.
Research shows that high blood cholesterol can run in families. However, very few people are stuck with high cholesterol just by heredity.
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