What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body and many foods. Your body needs cholesterol to function normally and makes all that you need. Too much cholesterol can build up in your arteries. After a while, these deposits narrow your arteries, putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke.
There are a number of uncontrollable factors that increase your risk of experiencing high cholesterol, according to the NHS. A few examples include:
- Family history – If a close male relative aged fewer than 55 or a female relative aged under 65 has experienced coronary heart disease or stroke, your risk of developing high cholesterol is higher.
- Age – With age, your arteries are more likely to narrow. This increases your chance of experiencing high cholesterol.
Certain lifestyle choices put you at great risk for developing high cholesterol. Those include:
- Unhealthy diet – Consuming too many foods high in saturated fat will heighten your cholesterol levels. Examples include fatty cuts of meat, butter, lard, cream, cheese and biscuits.
- Physical inactivity – Lack of exercise raises bad cholesterol. It also increases your chance of becoming overweight or obese, which can take a toll on your cholesterol levels.
- Smoking – Arcolein, a chemical found in cigarettes, narrows the arteries and heightens your cholesterol.
- Excess alcohol consumption – Drinking too much alcohol regularly can increase your blood pressure and cholesterol levels drastically.
- Poorly monitored conditions – According to Bupa UK, Conditions such as diabetes, kidney and liver disease and hypothyroidism can lead to high cholesterol if they’re poorly monitored.
High cholesterol usually doesn’t have any symptoms. As a result, many people do not know that their cholesterol levels are too high. However, doctors can do a simple blood test to check your cholesterol. High cholesterol can be controlled through lifestyle changes or if it is not enough, through medications.
It’s important to check your cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
What can you do to lower your Cholesterol?
Thankfully, lowering your cholesterol is simple. All you have to do is make a few lifestyle adjustments, according to the NHS.
- Low-fat and high-fiber food (Eat more fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and whole grains).
- For adults, getting at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week. For those aged 6-17, getting 1 hour or more of physical activity each day.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Don’t smoke or quit if you smoke.