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Does Stress Affect Your Cholesterol Levels

Where Does All The Extra Cholesterol Come From

The Link Between Stress and High Cholesterol

While your body makes all the cholesterol you need, you also get some from your diet. Cholesterol is found in animal-derived foods such as beef, chicken, fish, and cheese. Because of this, it was long thought that dietary cholesterol contributed to elevated blood cholesterol.

We used to recommend that patients limit their consumption of foods like eggs yolks if they had high cholesterol. We now know that dietary cholesterol in the amounts Americans typically consume has very little influence on blood cholesterol levels.

How Can I Lower My Cholesterol

Talk with your healthcare provider about the best way to lower your cholesterol. Some people only need some simple lifestyle changes like eating less saturated fat. Others need lifestyle changes plus medication. People with medical conditions that affect their cholesterol may need a more complex approach. Talk with your provider about your medical history, family history and lifestyle factors. Together, youll come up with a plan for lowering your cholesterol numbers.

Remember that even the best plans take time to work. And we all have setbacks. Its OK to struggle, and its also OK to tell your provider when a plan isnt working. Sometimes even the strictest lifestyle changes dont lower your cholesterol numbers enough. Thats because most of your bodys cholesterol is produced by your liver. So, many other factors come into play that are out of your control and have nothing to do with whats on your dinner plate.

Take things one step at a time, and remember that having high cholesterol isnt a personal failure. Its a result of many small changes quietly happening inside your body. Take control of what you can, but know that medications and other medical interventions are there to fill in the gaps.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/24/2022.


The Fight Or Flight Response In Stress

For all its unpleasant sensations, from sweaty palms to a pounding heart, fear is the body’s way of protecting itself against danger. In prehistoric times, the threat may have been a hungry bear. Today, it’s more likely to be a demanding boss.

When this happens, the body jumps into action. The hypothalamus, a gland located near the brain stem, triggers the release of two hormonesadrenaline and cortisolthat speed up the heart, stimulate the release of energy and increase blood flow to the brain. The body is preparing itself to either stay and fight or run.

The same chemical reaction occurs whether the threat is immediate physical harm or the potential loss of income and prestige.

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What Is Bad Cholesterol And Good Cholesterol

There are two types of cholesterol: HDL, known as good cholesterol, and LDL, known as bad cholesterol. The formers main function is to transport cholesterol from the arteries to the liver, where it is excreted. Some studies have shown that smoking lowers good cholesterol.

LDL works in the opposite way, transporting cholesterol from the liver to body tissues. High levels of this cholesterol can promote cardiovascular disease.

In general, men have higher levels of bad cholesterol. Proper medical monitoring and a balanced diet can help control blood cholesterol levels.

What Causes High Cholesterol

Is there a link between stress and cholesterol?

Many factors can increase your chances of having heart problems or a stroke if you have high cholesterol.

These include:

  • an unhealthy diet in particular, eating high levels of saturated fat
  • smoking a chemical called acrolin, found in cigarettes, stops HDL transporting cholesterol from fatty deposits to the liver, leading to narrowing of the arteries
  • having diabetes or high blood pressure
  • having a family history of stroke or heart disease

There’s also an inherited condition called familial hypercholesterolaemia. This can cause high cholesterol even in someone who eats healthily.

Read more about the causes of high cholesterol

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Indirect Effects Of Stress On Cholesterol

Stress is one factor that can contribute to high cholesterol levels.

Scientists have a reasonable understanding of the indirect effects of stress on cholesterol. For example, they know that when a person faces stress, they may be more likely to engage in certain behaviors that can increase or decrease cholesterol levels.

Factors that may indirectly cause cholesterol to rise include:

Dietary changes: In the short term, a person experiencing stress may not want to eat. In the long-term, however, the hormonal impact of stress can increase a persons appetite.

Read more: Can very low levels of bad cholesterol raise stroke risk?

Alcohol and tobacco: A person experiencing stress may increase their alcohol intake, and they may smoke more, or return to smoking after quitting.

Exercise: Physical activity directly affects cholesterol levels. If a person experiencing stress reduces the amount of physical activity they do, their cholesterol levels will likely rise.

Online Intl News with additional input by GVS News Desk

Can Cholesterol Cause Anxiety

The relationship between cholesterol and anxiety is complex as with many of the functions of the body. Cholesterol is a type of fat that is found in your blood. Natural cholesterol made by your body is created by the liver. However, cholesterol is also found in many foods that are commonly eaten including meat, fish, eggs, butter, cheese, and milk. Having good cholesterol levels is achievable, but its a balance because you need some, but not too much. Cholesterol is needed to help your brain, skin, and other organs perform their function effectively. However, too much cholesterol can clog the walls of your blood vessels and can cause problems such as a heart attack or stroke.

Read Also: Does Exercise Affect Cholesterol Test

How Stress Affects Your Cholesterol Level: Everything You Wanted To Know

Youve heard all about how high cholesterol levels are causing ill health. More importantly, youve heard about how bad cholesterol is causing ill health. It affects your arteries and blood flow, putting your heart under more pressure to perform properly. Those with high cholesterol levels are more at risk of stroke, heart attacks, and heart disease.

Cholesterol has long been linked to the food we eat. There are certain foods that were recommended to stay away from and others that we should get more off to promote good cholesterol levels and help protect the arteries.

Did you know that its not just food that affects the cholesterol levels? Stress has been linked to high cholesterol. In fact, some studies now show that stress is worse than the food we eat for cholesterol levels and ill health.

The problem is that stress is a silent killer. We dont realize that our cortisol levels are up and causing these problems until its too late in some cases. Its important to reduce our stress levels to keep our cholesterol levels down.

Heres a look at just how stress causes high cholesterol and what you can do about it.

Poor Diet Can Cause High Cholesterol

***How STRESS INCREASES CHOLESTEROL AND BELLY FAT | Stress management and cholesterol

Eating saturated fat, found in animal products, and trans fats, found in some commercially baked cookies and crackers and microwave popcorn, can raise your cholesterol level, says the Mayo Clinic. Foods that are high in cholesterol, such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, will also increase your cholesterol.

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Eat Up But Choose Wisely

When choosing your meals, choose foods with healthier fats. Avoid trans fat and saturated fat, which are sources of LDL cholesterol. Instead, opt for foods with unsaturated fat, which will boost your HDL levels. Try to include fish, nuts, seeds, beans and avocados in your diet. Fried and processed foods tend to have a lot of unhealthy fat, so enjoy those in moderation. Whole grains, such as oats and barley, and other sources of soluble fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, help prevent cholesterol from entering your bloodstream.

Why Would Stress Increase Cholesterol Levels

Stress activates the bodys fight-or-flight response. When this happens, cortisol and adrenaline are released for increased blood flow should your body need it. Cortisol also gives you shot of glucose, raising your blood sugar levels. Since your body is not in a state of high energy consumption as anticipated, these sugars are left unused and ends up producing more triglycerides, which raises cholesterol levels.

Or something to that effect. Point being, stress sets off a chain reaction in your body that inevitably leads to higher cholesterol levels.

Now, lets try to find some more studies to back that up.

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How Can I Lower My Cholesterol Level

The first step in reducing your cholesterol is to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. It’s important to keep your diet low in fatty food.

You can swap food containing saturated fat for fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals. This will also help prevent high cholesterol returning.

Other lifestyle changes, such as taking regular exercise and giving up smoking, can also make a big difference in helping to lower your cholesterol.

If these measures don’t reduce your cholesterol and you continue to have a high risk of developing heart disease, your GP may prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication, such as statins.

Your GP will take into account the risk of any side effects from statins. The benefit of lowering your cholesterol must outweigh any risks.

Read more about how high cholesterol is treated

Does Stress Affect Your Cholesterol

[33] 5 Techniques to Reduce Stress and Relax


High cholesterol can increase your chance of heart attack and stroke. Stress can do that as well. Some research shows a possible link between stress and cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in some foods and also produced by your body. The cholesterol content of food is not as noteworthy as the trans fats and saturated fats in our diets. These fats are what can cause the body to make more cholesterol.

There are so-called good and bad cholesterols. Your ideal levels are:

  • LDL cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dL
  • HDL cholesterol: more than 60 mg/dL
  • total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL

When bad cholesterol is too high, it can build up in your arteries. This affects how blood flows to your brain and your heart, which could cause stroke or heart attack.

Risk factors for high cholesterol include:

  • family history of high cholesterol, heart problems, or strokes
  • smoking tobacco

You might be at risk for high cholesterol because you have a family history of it, or you might have a family history of heart problems or strokes. Lifestyle habits can also have a big impact on your cholesterol levels. Obesity, defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher, puts you at risk for high cholesterol. Diabetes can also damage the inside of your arteries and allow cholesterol to build up. Smoking tobacco can have the same effect.

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Tips To Manage Your Stress

Fight the urge to overeat, binge on junk food or alcohol, or smoke when youâre stressed. All of these may seem to help you relax, but theyâre short-term fixes that have long-term effects on your health.

These unhealthy habits can also raise cholesterol. Lifestyle changes like exercise, healthy eating, and not smoking can help you manage your cholesterol and stress at the same time.

For high-quality stress relief:

  • Connect with friends, family members, or co-workers who lift your spirits. Set up an in-person visit, phone call, or online chat.
  • Volunteer in your community. Doing something to help others may boost your mood and help destress.
  • Start a journal or blog to express your thoughts. Work through emotions on the page instead of keeping stress bottled up.
  • Listen to music. If youâre stressed out, slow-tempo music can soothe and relax you, while faster beats are good when you need to boost your spirits.
  • Get regular exercise to release endorphins, natural chemicals that ease stress. When youâre in shape, you can deal with stress more effectively. Your blood pressure and heart rate may not spike as much even when youâre stressed out.
  • Try mind-body practices that relax you, including mindfulness, meditation, or yoga routines.

Could your stress be due to something more serious, like anxiety disorder? While symptoms may be similar, anxiety disorder usually causes feelings of intense fear or panic that come on quickly and happen more often than typical stress.

Getting A Cholesterol Test

A blood sample is taken that will be used to determine the amount of bad cholesterol , good cholesterol and other fatty substances in your blood.

You may be asked not to eat for 10-12 hours before the cholesterol test, usually including when youre asleep at night. This ensures that all food is completely digested and wont affect the outcome of the test.

Your GP or practice nurse can carry out the cholesterol test and will take a blood sample, either using a needle and a syringe or by pricking your finger.

A newer type of test that measures non-high-density lipoprotein is now sometimes used because its thought to be a more accurate way of estimating cardiovascular disease risk than LDL.

Non-HDL cholesterol is total cholesterol minus HDL cholesterol. Its also not necessary to fast before the test, so it is more convenient.

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Does Stress Affect Your Cholesterol Levels

Are you stressed for the vast majority of the time? Maybe you have a job that you dont like where there is a lot of pressure to perform. Or perhaps you worry about what others think of you?

If this is you then you are probably also worried about the answer to does stress affect cholesterol and the other implications of stress on your health.

Here is all about the link between stress and cholesterol and stress and high cholesterol go hand-in-hand.

Why Are High Blood Cholesterol Levels Bad

High Cholesterol – Do I Need To Take Medication?

Cholesterol has a wax-like constitution and therefore, cannot dissolve in blood, which is water based.

It, therefore, piggy rides on the back of the proteins to travel in the bloodstream and feed the body cells. This combination of proteins and cholesterol is called lipoproteins.

Due to its waxy and sticky nature, an excess of cholesterol in the blood tends to stick to the inner walls of the arteries hardening the arterial walls.

Over time, this narrows down the lumen of the arteries and further can occlude it causing loss of blood supply to concerned part of the body. This is referred to as atherosclerosis.

  • In the heart, this can cause angina or a heart attack.
  • In the brain, this can cause a stroke.
  • In the peripheral parts of the body, this can cause peripheral vascular disease.

These are enough significant reasons to emphasize, why you should keep your cholesterol levels in check.

The main culprits whose high levels can cause these complications are LDL and triglycerides.

Here is the list of reasons that can cause your serum cholesterol levels to rise:

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Food And Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance produced in the liver, according to the American Heart Association. Though you may think of cholesterol as bad, the body actually needs cholesterol to function properly.

Cholesterol can also be found in foods such as meat, dairy, eggs and baked goods. However, the relationship between food and blood cholesterol is more complicated than previously believed.

Until recently, it was though that eating lots of cholesterol-rich foods played a significant role in causing high blood cholesterol. But a major 2015 report by the USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee found that cholesterol from food called dietary cholesterol has a much smaller effect on a persons blood cholesterol.

Read more:The Truth About How Your Diet Affects Your Cholesterol

Instead, a diet high in fats and carbohydrates has a much greater effect on blood cholesterol, according to the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. But you should note that many cholesterol-rich foods are also high in saturated fats. This is why Dr. Eckel says its still best to limit or avoid meat, dairy and baked goods.

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Medications And Alternative Supplements

If reducing stress hasnt sufficiently reduced high cholesterol, there are medications and alternative remedies that you can try.

These medications and remedies include:

  • omega-3 fatty acids

Whether using prescription medications or alternative supplements, always consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment plan. Even if theyre natural, small changes in a treatment plan can interfere with medications or supplements youre already taking.

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What Can I Do

If youre like most people, you know that stress is a problem in your life, but you may not know how to fix it. For many of my patients, stress often seems like an unavoidable health hazard between work, family and personal life. Luckily, there are some surprisingly easy changes you can make to help reduce your stress levels.

Stress Isnt The Only Culprit

Is Your Stress Getting The Better Of You?

It is important to note that stress isnt the only reason we suffer from high cholesterol levels. While its a silent killer and common, there are many other reasons your cholesterol levels could be high. Diet is certainly a factor, but so are genetics and other lifestyle choices that you make. The place you work or the chemicals that you inhale from where you live can also cause cholesterol levels to increase.

This is something that scientists are still trying to understand. We have come a long way since believing that all cholesterol was bad. Now we know that some cholesterol is good, and we want it to our bodies, but we need to make sure that it is good.

While stress isnt the only culprit, it is one of the main reasons for high cholesterol levels and other health problems. Its best to keep the stress levels at bay as much as possible.

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