Key causes of high cholesterol: What you need to know

Credit: Unsplash+

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all cells of the body, necessary for making hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods.

However, having high levels of cholesterol in your blood can increase your risk of heart disease.

When cholesterol levels are too high, fatty deposits can develop in your blood vessels, making it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries.

This article breaks down the common causes of high blood cholesterol, providing insights based on research in straightforward language.

Dietary Influences: One of the most significant contributors to high cholesterol is diet. Foods that are high in cholesterol, such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, play a part. However, the bigger impact comes from foods high in saturated fats and trans fats.

Saturated fats, found in fatty beef, pork, butter, cheese, and other dairy products, can raise your total cholesterol. Trans fats, sometimes listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” are often used in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers, and cakes.

Trans fats are particularly bad because they increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol, and decrease high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol.

Genetic Factors: Genetics also play a crucial role in determining cholesterol levels. Familial hypercholesterolemia is a specific genetic condition wherein high cholesterol levels are passed down through families.

People with this condition can have very high cholesterol levels, often from a young age, despite having a healthy lifestyle.

Physical Activity: Lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain, which can raise your LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL cholesterol. Regular exercise can help control weight and can lower cholesterol levels by raising HDL cholesterol.

Obesity: Carrying excess weight can raise unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lower healthy HDL cholesterol. Losing weight can help bring your cholesterol into balance, reducing these risks.

Age and Gender: Cholesterol levels naturally rise as you age. Before menopause, women generally have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. After menopause, women’s LDL levels tend to rise, surpassing those of men.

Smoking: Smoking damages the walls of your blood vessels, making them more likely to accumulate fatty deposits. Moreover, smoking may lower your level of HDL, or “good,” cholesterol.

Alcohol: Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to serious health issues, including high cholesterol. While moderate alcohol use has been linked with higher levels of HDL cholesterol, the benefits aren’t strong enough to recommend alcohol for anyone who doesn’t already drink.

Medical Conditions: Certain chronic conditions may increase your risk of high cholesterol. For example, diabetes lowers HDL cholesterol and raises LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Kidney disease, hypothyroidism, and other hormonal imbalances can also affect cholesterol levels.

Prevention and Management: Managing high cholesterol often involves making lifestyle changes. These include adopting a heart-healthy diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts while limiting red meat and sugary foods and beverages.

Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption can also help manage cholesterol levels.

In conclusion, high blood cholesterol can result from a variety of factors, including diet, genetics, lifestyle, and other health conditions.

Understanding these can help you take proactive steps to manage your cholesterol levels effectively, reducing your risk of heart disease.

Regular cholesterol screenings are crucial as they help detect high levels early on, allowing for timely interventions that can make a significant difference in your health outcomes.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and calcium supplements could harm your heart health.

For more information about health, please see recent studies that blackcurrants can reduce blood sugar after meal and results showing how drinking milk affects risks of heart disease and cancer.

Copyright © 2024 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.