What Causes High Cholesterol
What causes high cholesterol? Is there still hope for people with a high cholesterol level?
If you want to know more about what causes high cholesterol, I highly encourage you to continue reading.
What Exactly Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is waxy organic compound fat that is part of our cell’s outer membrane. As much as 75% of cholesterol is produced by our body, specifically the liver, to help in maintaining the integrity of cell membranes and their different processes. Cholesterol is also involved in the formation of a few important body hormones. What's important to understand is that despite any genetic factors, the food you eat also plays a major role in the amount of cholesterol in your body.
Both HDL And LDL Are Naturally Produced By The Body
Since cholesterol does not blend well with blood – because it’s mostly composed of water — it is transported by attaching to lipoproteins. Believe it or not, LDL (often dubbed as the ‘bad cholesterol’) is also important in the maintenance of your body cells. HDL, the good cholesterol, carries excess cholesterol to the liver for disposal.
A widely accepted goal for cholesterol is 60 mg/dL or higher for HDL and below 100 mg/dL for LDL. However, it's a misnomer to think that a lower LDL number is always better. What we need to remember is that even LDL cholesterol is needed to support key processes in the body. So the "LDL cholesterol limbo" (ie, "how low can you go?") that many are trying to play is a risky and potentially dangerous game.
It’s the HDL to LDL ratio that is more important compared to any LDL number by itself. You could have a higher than average LDL level but still remain healthy, especially if your HDL is high enough to help compensate and balance your overall cholesterol profile.
A high HDL level is often a significant marker of a lower than average risk for developing heart attacks or stroke. Since high cholesterol symptoms don’t often manifest, it would be best to take the appropriate blood tests to monitor your health condition.
The liver often forms a compensatory mechanism to battle cholesterol imbalances. For example, if you take in too many fatty foods, it automatically produces less cholesterol. Even an occasional significant increase in dietary cholesterol can still be tolerated by healthy individuals.
Wrong food intake will greatly influence your LDL cholesterol. However, contrary to popular belief, it’s not always eating cholesterol-containing foods that cause health problems. But, it is the foods that cause cholesterol to form in the blood that’s the real problem.
During their pre-menopausal years, women are lucky to be somewhat protected from cholesterol problems because of the female sex hormones. However, this "protection" may be compromised if a woman has other underlying diseases, such as diabetes. Either way, it's important to be conscious of what you eat and develop healthy eating and lifestyle habits before you hit menopausal stage.
And the next obvious question is, what causes high cholesterol in men?
A combination of lifestyle and biological reasons places men at more risk for different heart diseases. According to the American Lung Association, 24.8 million men (compared to 21.1 million women smokers) smoke in America. (1) Smoking is known to lower your "good" HDL cholesterol – which you don't want to happen. Male hormones, such as progesterone and testosterone, also lower HDL. (Remember, HDL is the good cholesterol and you want more, not less.)
Family History and Genetics
Some people, even at a young age, manifest blood cholesterol problems because of their genes. Their parents or grandparents could pass on defective genes that make their liver’s LDL receptors unable to capture excess cholesterol in the blood. On other hand, some people might produce too much LDL that the body isn't able to properly compensate for anymore.
While poor genetics isn't ideal, eating the right type of foods and other lifestyle changes can still have a big, positive impact and make a world of difference.
There are certain diseases that directly affect your cholesterol production. Hypothyroidism, which decreases the production of thyroxine, slows down metabolism and decreases the body’s ability to process cholesterol. Often, when these main health problems are controlled, your blood cholesterol problems would also go away.
A Sedimentary Lifestyle Will Put You at High Risk for Heart Problems
Decreased physical activity — either because of your work or lifestyle choice — will surely bring you a variety of different health problems.
Do whatever you can to set aside time each day to exercise. Don't get hung up on a regiment either. It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do just as long as it will increase your heart rate. A good rule of thumb is to keep going at least until you break a sweat.
Start by Eating Right!
The first step is to list down the foods that you eat each day. Recognize those that belong to the healthy and unhealthy food category. Avoid or cut down on foods that cause cholesterol to form and replace those with foods known to help reduce and regulate cholesterol levels.
A Word of Caution: Many doctors and nutrition books tell you to avoid certain foods, like eggs. But, many of these foods don’t really cause high cholesterol at all! In fact, some foods that are branded as ‘heart-friendly’, like margarine, will actually cause arterial clogging as fast as anything you could eat! So be careful that the advice you're getting is nutritionally sound.
Explore Herbal Supplements
Compared to medicinal drugs, herbal supplements are natural and typically cause no side effects. Garlic, for example, curbs cholesterol production in the liver. Fortunately, there are a lot of reputable natural food supplement manufacturers out there that you can choose from.
High cholesterol is influenced by many different factors: age, gender, existing health problems, lifestyle, and genetics. Although people might have the same problem, each person still has unique conditions that need to be addressed differently. Just remember that high cholesterol is typically easily controlled through different natural and safe health remedies.
(1) Women and Tobacco Use