High cholesterol, low cholesterol… it's all very confusing. However, did you know that you don’t need to eat foods that contain cholesterol? Your body can produce all the cholesterol it needs.
What is it?
Cholesterol is a type of fat that is part of all animal cells. It is essential for many of the body’s metabolic processes, including hormone and bile production, and to help the body use vitamin D. However, there’s no need to eat foods high in cholesterol. The body is very good at making its own cholesterol; you don’t need to help it along. In fact, too much cholesterol in your diet can lead to heart disease.
What causes it?
There are several factors that may contribute to high blood cholesterol:
- A diet that's high in saturated fat and, less so, high in cholesterol.
- Lack of exercise may increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and decrease HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
- Family history – people are at a higher risk of high cholesterol if they have a direct male relative aged under 55 or female relative aged under 65 affected by coronary heart disease.
- Being overweight, which may increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and decrease HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
- Age and sex – cholesterol generally rises slightly with increasing age, and men are more likely to be affected than women.
- Drinking alcohol excessively.
Rarely, high cholesterol can be caused by a condition that runs in the family called a lipid disorder (familial hypercholesterolaemia).
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of high cholesterol usually are rare. High cholesterol levels are generally identified from a blood test. The symptoms seen are actually from the end-result of high cholesterol for health issues such as coronary disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Some symptoms of high cholesterol can include:
- Coronary Disease.
- Peripheral Vascular Disease.
Are there any natural therapies?
The most important thing you can do to reduce your cholesterol level is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You should try to:
- Limit the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol-rich foods you eat.
- Increase the amount and variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods you have each day.
- Choose lean meat.
- Limit fatty meats, including sausages and salami, and choose leaner sandwich meats like turkey breast or cooked lean chicken.
- Have fish (fresh or canned) at least twice a week.
- Include foods in your diet that are rich in soluble fibre and healthy fats, such as nuts, legumes and seeds.
- Limit cheese and icecream.
- Reduce your alcohol intake to no more than one or two drinks per day, and avoid binge drinking.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking increases the ability of LDL cholesterol to get into your cells and cause damage.
- Exercise regularly (for example, at least 30 minutes of brisk walking daily). Exercise increases the HDL levels and reduces LDL levels in the body.
- Lose any excess body fat. Being overweight may contribute to elevated blood LDL levels.
- Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. High blood sugars are linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis.
Did you know?
Knowing your blood cholesterol level may help you lower your risk for heart disease. If your blood cholesterol is high, the cholesterol collects on the walls of your arteries and other blood vessels. As time passes, these deposits harden, blocking the flow of blood to the heart.
A recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that the cholesterol-lowering effect of newer dietary strategies known as the portfolio diet could be similar to the effects of daily ingestion of 20 mg of lovastatin – a potent statin drug.
Consider the grapefruit. While most people know grapefruit is good for you, they still prefer to eat other citrus fruits because of grapefruit's bitter taste. A new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has elevated the status of the lowly grapefruit to new heights by showing that it can reduce cholesterol levels in the blood significantly, which helps to lower the risk of other conditions that could lead to heart disease.
Trimming carbohydrate intake results in healthy improvements in blood fat levels, even if a person doesn't lose an ounce, a new study shows.
"These dietary fads tend to come and go," Dr Ronald M. Krauss of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute in Oakland, California, said. "In the case of low carbohydrates, people shouldn't be so quick to throw that away and move on to the next diet. Limiting carbohydrates can be beneficial even if people aren't successful at losing weight."
Scientists now believe that carbohydrates, especially simple sugars, can cause unhealthy changes in blood fats by causing fat to collect in the liver - just as it does on one's thighs or belly. These fats eventually find their way into the bloodstream, Krauss explained. Cutting down on these fat deposits by cutting carbs reduces fat levels in the blood, and may also boost the body's ability to break down fats that do reach the bloodstream.
People who eat smaller, more frequent meals have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and healthier blood sugar than people who eat fewer, larger meals.
This conclusion was reached after a recent study conducted by specialist researchers from a US Nutrition Research Center. This research follows an ’05 study showing that eating larger portion sizes does not correspond to feeling more full.
We’ve all heard about cholesterol – we know that keeping out cholesterol levels low is a good thing, and that high cholesterol levels are a bad thing.
So you may have heard of it, but do you know what cholesterol is and what it does?
Despite what the ads say, even if you eat a healthy diet, you too may be at risk of high cholesterol. Here we discuss how cholesterol could affect you, and what you can do to lower your levels naturally.
Researchers at the Imperial College in London have suggested in a new study that fast food outlets could provide statin drugs free of charge so that customers can neutralise the heart disease dangers of fatty food.
Statins reduce the amount of unhealthy cholesterol in the blood, so essentially this proposed treatment would ‘cancel out’ the negative effects of the fast food. Sounds like a joke? Unfortunately, it isn’t.