Cholesterol 101: Everything You Must Know

Cholesterol 101: Everything You Must Know

You’ve probably already heard about cholesterol, and it’s time to understand more about this topic, affecting thousands of people’s lives.

Today, you will understand cholesterol and what you can do to maintain your health as you age. Although it is a complex topic, we will bring relevant information simply so that you can get the most out of this article.

Remember that our posts do not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We want to bring you good quality information so you can pay more attention to your health.

Check out our latest Health Topics:

What is Cholesterol and Why Do You Need It?

Cholesterol is a substance present in every cell in your body. It is used to build cells, and produce vitamins and other hormones.

Although the liver can produce all the cholesterol you need, you can still increase cholesterol levels by consuming tropical oils, fatty animal sources, processed foods, junk food, and more.

These foods have high amounts of trans and saturated fat, which causes the liver to produce even more cholesterol – which can be harmful to your health.

2 Types of Cholesterol

Cholesterol circulates throughout your body through the bloodstream in substances known as lipoproteins. There are two of them:

LDL (Bad Cholesterol)

LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, is present in the body in more significant amounts. It can be dangerous, as too much LDL can cause a fatty substance (plaque) to build up, blocking blood flow and narrowing the arteries.

These two conditions can lead to strokes and heart attack, in addition to other heart diseases.

HDL (Good Cholesterol)

HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, is known as good cholesterol because it absorbs the excess of cholesterol in the blood, transporting it back to the liver, which is responsible for eliminating it.

In other words, higher levels of HDL cholesterol can reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.

What Causes High Cholesterol?

Several factors can cause blood cholesterol to rise. The genetic factor is one of them, so if you have a family history of high cholesterol, you should be even more concerned about this condition. Besides that, several diseases can also raise LDL levels or bad cholesterol.

Here are other factors that can cause high cholesterol to rise, all of which are related to your lifestyle:

1. Alcoholism

In addition to raising cholesterol levels, drinking alcohol can also increase triglycerides in the blood. High levels of triglycerides can cause fatty liver disease and disrupt liver functions, which cannot eliminate cholesterol – further increasing the concentration of LDL in the blood.

If you drink a lot, or often, consider changing this habit as soon as possible. Do not hesitate to seek professional help.

2. Smoking

In a nutshell, smoking lowers the good cholesterol (HDL) – especially in women – and raises the bad cholesterol (LDL). Furthermore, smoking disrupts your health in several ways, causing severe illnesses that can lead to death.

It is worth remembering that, like alcoholism, smoking is a disease that affects thousands of people. If you smoke and are struggling to quit, seek professional help as soon as possible.

3. Stress

Stress can increase the level of certain hormones (such as corticosteroids) that cause your body to produce more cholesterol.

We recently wrote some articles about mental health and how to reduce stress. Have you had a look?

4. Sedentarism

Lack of physical activity is commonly associated with lower levels of good cholesterol (HDL).

If you want to learn more to progress on your fitness journey, read our Fitness Topics!

5. Unhealthy Food

As we talked about earlier, you should reduce or avoid consuming foods rich in saturated and trans fat, such as:

  • Fried food.
  • Baked goods such as pastries, cakes, and biscuits.
  • Butter.
  • Junk food such as pizza and hamburgers.
  • Fatty cuts of meat.
  • Full fat diary products, such as cream, milk and cheese.

Note: If you want to read some practical tips on reducing the consumption of unhealthy food, read this article. We are all human and crave junk food from time to time – and that’s okay! The secret is to control your impulses, so you don’t overdo it!

Which Foods Lower Cholesterol?

In a nutshell, foods high in soluble fiber or polyunsaturated fats can help lower blood cholesterol. Check out some of them!

Best Sources of Soluble Fiber

  • Beans.
  • Brussels Sprouts.
  • Avocado.
  • Sweet Potatoes.
  • Broccoli.
  • Carrots.
  • Fruits like nectarines, apricots, apples and pears.

Best Sources of Polyunsaturated Fats

  • Fish such as salmon, herring and sardines.
  • Flaxseeds.
  • Walnuts.
  • Specific oils such as flaxseed, corn, sunflower and soybean oil.

How to Lower Cholesterol

As you can see, many of the factors that increase blood cholesterol levels are related to your lifestyle. That’s precisely why your health must always come first!

We all have bad habits and addictions, but remember that we can always change. There is always time to take care of your health, regardless of your age. If you suffer from any health condition or have a family history, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible, or talk to your doctor.

It is essential that you start replacing bad habits with healthy ones, and having a qualified professional to guide you will make all the difference. Don’t play with your health!

Two powerful resources improve your overall health, in addition to giving you more quality of life: healthy eating and physical activity. These should be two of your top priorities!

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