High Cholesterol is a common issue today. According to the American Heart Association, there are 98.8 million Americans 20 years and above who have total blood cholesterol levels exceeding 200mg/dL. (1)
But before anything else, let’s learn more about high cholesterol and its proper health management.
How Are Fats Or Cholesterol Produced in the Body?
Cholesterol is naturally present in our body. It is a waxy, fat-like material that is part of the outer membrane of cells. It is mostly produced by the liver, which can produce up to 1 gram of blood cholesterol every day. Cholesterol is also formed through the foods that we eat.
But something you need to know, but may have never heard before is that…
A high cholesterol level isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Believe it or not, your body needs fats and blood cholesterol. They play a vital role in many key body processes. For example, cholesterol is responsible for producing hormones, Vitamin D and bile acids. It is needed to make and preserve cell membranes, too.
So more cholesterol isn't necessarily the troubling warning sign many want us to think it is. Instead…
It's an imbalanced level of good and bad cholesterol that causes the health problems.
When there's too much LDL in relationship to the "good" HDL cholesterol – that's when the possibility of health problems start to happen. Instead of bringing fat away from the body and carry it to the liver for excretion, LDL supports the retention of these fats to form plaque in your arterial walls.
A high LDL then should be compensated with a much higher HDL level, because it's the HDL that helps offset these negative consequences.
What is the consequence of high LDL levels along with low HDL?
When there is too much bad cholesterol (LDL) in your bloodstream, it can gradually build up inside your arterial walls forming plaque. It's plaque that causes arteries to lose their elastic quality and cause blockages to occur.
Consequently, less oxygen and nutrients are distributed to the brain and heart. End result? This is what eventually leads to a stroke or heart attack.
So what causes high cholesterol in the first place?
Some of the common factors that influence high cholesterol are: age, gender, diet, genetics, lifestyle, and the #1 contributing factor is typically a poor diet. Despite the serious health implications that this can cause, high cholesterol is one health problem that can often easily be controlled.
It turns out that women typically have an easier time maintaining and controlling healthy cholesterol levels vs. their male counterparts … and it's not a coincidence or dumb luck either.
We've known for some time now that the risk of developing heart diseases is significantly lower for women compared to men during their reproductive years. Ever wondered why? It's because the female sex hormones (estrogen) in women help prevents LDL levels from reaching unsafe levels.
What Are The Different High Cholesterol Symptoms?
One of the dangers to your heart and arteries is that there aren't really any noticeable high cholesterol symptoms to be on the lookout for. A person could go on with his normal daily routine without showing any obvious signs of having high or unbalanced cholesterol levels.
It is only through blood testing that a cholesterol problem can be confirmed. That's why a blood test to get your cholesterol checked on a regular basis is so important – because it's the only way to detect you might have a problem.
Many reputable health organizations and sources now suggested that your total blood cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL, less than 130 mg/dL for LDL, and above 60 mg/dL for HDL. (2)
However, more detailed analysis reveals that the total cholesterol or even the LDL number isn't as accurate of a predictor for heart health as once thought. As mentioned previously, you need to compare your LDL and triglycerides in relationship to your HDL to get a more accurate indicator of your overall cholesterol health.
Management of High Cholesterol
While most cholesterol-lowering drugs do help lower your numbers, they typically cause more problems that you want to bargain for. For example, many people experience extreme muscle weakness, or worse, muscle destruction (rhabdomyolysis) as a result of taking anti-cholesterol drugs.
It is wiser and safer to start with natural ways to manage your blood cholesterol. Exercise, for one, not only helps maintain a healthy weight level, but helps with regulating halthy cholesterol levels.
Knowing the right types of food to eat and avoid will also help decrease the risk of circulation problems. The tricky part here is that so much of the food advice floating out there on cholesterol is either misleading or downright wrong. So be careful.
What Is The Best High Cholesterol Diet?
The best diet for people with excess cholesterol should comprise of vegetables, fruits, and soluble fibers. The right cooking technique should also be taken into consideration. It would be best to cook your food by grilling, roasting, broiling, and steaming. Frying should be done only in rare instances and avoided if possible.
Ever tried this delicious low-cholesterol recipe?
Kinilaw is a Filipino dish that doesn’t require cooking. You can even prepare this in less than 10 minutes. It uses raw ingredients that include fish, vinegar, ginger, salt, lemon juice, cucumber, onion, chili (optional), and unripe mango (optional).
The cubed fish meat, usually tuna, is cooked by soaking it on vinegar. You just mix all the ingredients into a bowl and wait for a couple of minutes until the fish meat turns a little whitish before serving.
What High Cholesterol Foods Should You Avoid?
LDL cholesterol is heavily influenced by your diet. That is why it is important for you to know which high cholesterol foods contribute to heart and circulation problems.
Some of the foods that you should avoid (or at least cut back on) are:
- Processed meat products
- Fried foods
- All trans fats
- Foods high in carbohydrates like breads
Sadly, there is too much misleading information out there. Even your doctors and other nutrition books give out inaccurate and overrated advice. This is why millions discover that most “low-fat, low-cholesterol” diets aren't very effective in helping them achieve balanced, heart-friendly cholesterol levels.
So before you follow any advice, make sure that you do your research carefully. Follow only advice and suggestions that have proven to actually work compared to theories that only sounds good but fail to deliver the right results.