5 Things You May Not Know about Cholesterol
The #1 cause of death is still cardiac diseases and complications. Just watching what you eat isn't enough to have balanced cholesterol. Learn about several common misconceptions about cholesterol in this article.
Sometimes when we’re diagnosed with high cholesterol it comes as a surprise. How can I have elevated levels if I eat well and am not overweight?
Many people don’t really understand this condition. High cholesterol doesn’t just show up in people who are overweight or when they reach a certain age.
Your heart’s silent enemy appears when you least expect it. The worst thing is that you can’t see it, as it doesn’t show symptoms until the first warning sign: cardiac failure, a heart attack…
You need regular checkups with your doctor. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20, 40, or 60 years old. After all, being informed means having the tools you need to manage these illnesses.
Don’t forget that the #1 cause of death is still cardiac diseases and complications.
Let’s learn some helpful facts.
1. Where does cholesterol come from?
We’re very used to hearing the word “cholesterol,” but what actually is it? Where does it come from?
Here’s what you need to know:
- First of all, it’s important to know that cholesterol isn’t bad. An excess of it is indeed counter-productive, but this type of fat is indispensable for the formation of your body’s cells.
- When too much of it is produced, it has to be stored somewhere. Your arteries are one of the preferred “storage areas,” and as a result it becomes dangerous.
- Cholesterol also is created in the liver. This is a bit of a problem: you also get a share of cholesterol from food.
- In other words, there are two ways your body gets cholesterol: from your liver and from the “unhealthy” food you like so much.
We need to start controlling our intake of foods that increase cholesterol levels. This is even recommended for children, too.
2. “Good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol
We also hear about good and bad cholesterol a lot. The key is keeping a proper balance between the two and especially never going beyond the 200 mg/dl line.
Let’s look at what the difference is between these two types of cholesterol in detail:
- Good cholesterol, or HDL, is in charge of sweeping cholesterol out of the arteries towards the liver so it can be eliminated. So if your level of HDL is a little high, there’s no risk.
It’s somewhat positive as long as your bad cholesterol never goes beyond 200 mg/dl.
- Bad cholesterol, or LDL, on the other hand, has the job of transporting cholesterol from the liver to the other organs. It’s a proper job, because what it tries to do is repair cell membranes.
However, there’s a problem when there’s too much. Then, it accumulates.
3. Cholesterol and its genetic side
Family history of hypercholesterolemia is a reality we can’t ignore. We’re talking about a disease that passes from parents to their children and can cause heart attacks at a very young age, for example.
- This isn’t just anecdotal; it’s a very relevant reality that you should discuss with your doctor if your parents have or had high cholesterol.
- Familial hypercholesterolemia happens because of a defect in chromosome 19. This small alteration makes your body unable to eliminate bad cholesterol, or LDL, and so it keeps building up.
- Familial hypercholesterolemia can also make it not so easy to reduce cholesterol levels. There is resistance. However, medication can have good results.
- This condition can make people under 40 have heart attacks. The problem can progress to a lethal point without you even knowing it, if you don’t get your cholesterol levels checked periodically.
We recommend: Medicinal Plants for Hypertension
4. Plant sterols and cholesterol
Some people think that eating the grocery store classics that are made with plant sterols will fix their elevated cholesterol issue.
Let’s make this clear: plant sterols help, but aren’t the answer.
When it comes to plant sterols, we’re told that consuming between 1.5 and 2.4 grams of plant sterols every day will help reduce blood cholesterol levels 7 to 10% after three weeks.
But to get a proper balance in cholesterol, we have to do more.
5. Sometimes, eating well isn’t enough
Increasing your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables won’t be enough if, for example, you keep smoking. Reducing the amount of sugar and saturated fat you eat won’t be enough if your weight is still too high. Remember:
- When the plaque has already hardened your arteries, you will need to employ many more strategies to get that internal balance.
- A good diet should be accompanied by exercise, physical activity, and changing some unhealthy habits.
- It’s also important to quit smoking, have an active lifestyle, and know how many calories you should consume according to your body and level of physical activity.
Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about these subjects. Taking care of your cholesterol is vital.
Don’t put it off until tomorrow.