Why Cholesterol Matters For Women
Ah, cholesterol and triglycerides. We hear about them all the time. Even foods that might seem good for you on the surface, like fruit-filled yogurt or bran muffins, can contribute to abnormal levels if they contain too much saturated fat or refined sugar, says Erin Michos, M.D., associate director of preventive cardiology at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease.
Whats more, many women are at risk for high cholesterol and dont realize it. Approximately 45 percent of women over the age of 20 have a total cholesterol of 200 mg/dl and above, which is considered elevated but a survey by the American Heart Association found that 76 percent of women say they dont even know what their cholesterol values are, Michos says.
Scarier still: Triglycerides, a type of blood fat typically measured alongside cholesterol, are even more risky in women compared with men. This is a problem because womens cholesterol levels can fluctuate quite a bit after menopause and tend to increase with age, putting us at greater risk of heart disease and stroke. Knowing your cholesterol numbers and how to control them is a big step toward staying healthy.
How Does High Cholesterol Affect Your Body
High cholesterol refers to abnormally high levels of cholesterol in the blood. When fat and other lipids enter the blood, the body is able to produce the cholesterol it needs to make bile acids and vitamin D. The rest of the cholesterol is eliminated from the body. Its affects the arteries and heart. Your blood vessels and veins need to be flexible and elastic to provide blood and oxygen to the tissues and organs in your body. Its lining the walls of the arteries and veins can make them stiff, reducing blood flow to organs.
This limits their ability to produce the blood they need to function. If the cholesterol levels are high enough, the arteries can also narrow, making it more difficult for blood to flow through the body. High cholesterol can also cause blood clots to form, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. There are several ways to lower your cholesterol level. The best way is to eat a balanced diet that limits the amount of fat you consume. Your doctor may also prescribe medication.
Eat Fewer Refined Grains Such As White Flour
Were a nation of white food eaters white bread, white rice, white pasta, and white-flour foods like muffins, croissants, bagels, crackers, dried cereals, tortillas, pretzels, and chips. Yes, more than half of many Americans typical diets are made up of hyperprocessed refined white flour, often injected with sugar, salt, and/or fat.
Thats a real problem in part because the more white, or refined, grains we eat, the fewer whole grains we tend to take in. Research has found that eating whole grains can help lower both total and LDL cholesterol, and improve heart health.
In Harvard Universitys Nurses Health Study, for example, women who ate two to three servings of whole-grain products each day were 30% less likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease over a 10-year period than women who ate less than one serving of whole grains per week.2
When first starting to make the switch from refined to whole grains, many people often feel a bit confused. Where to begin? Whats whole? What isnt?
The registered dietitians at the Pritikin Longevity Center start with one very simple rule. When looking at products like breads and cereals, they recommend turning the package around and making sure the first word in the Ingredient List is whole. If you see the word whole at the top of the list, its a good bet that what youre buying is in fact 100% whole grain, or close to it.
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What Are The Risks Linked To High Cholesterol
Too much LDL cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of heart and blood vessel disease .
The excess LDL cholesterol leads to fatty deposits called plaque forming in the artery walls. Over time, the plaque causes narrowing and hardening of the arteries .
This can lead to:
- Angina when plaque builds up in the major arteries that supply your heart, known as the coronary arteries, they become narrower and are partially blocked, reducing blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart. This may cause shortness of breath and chest pain.
- Heart attack if a plaque in a coronary artery bursts , a clot may form and block the supply of blood to the heart, starving it of oxygen.
- Stroke if the blood vessels that supply the brain become narrower or blocked by plaque, blood supply to the brain can be severely reduced or cut off, causing a stroke. Strokes can also be caused when a clot from another part of the body travels through the blood and lodges in an artery in the brain.
- Peripheral vascular disease this usually affects the arteries that supply the legs and feet, causing leg pain when walking , and even pain when resting, when the circulation is more badly affected
A high level of HDL cholesterol is good because HDL cholesterol helps remove other forms of cholesterol from the blood, taking them back to the liver where they’re removed from the blood and passed out of the body.
Curb Cholesterol Not Flavor
Itâs no secret that certain foods can help you lower your LDL cholesterol, which causes a buildup of plaque in the arteries that leads to heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. But what may surprise you is that many of these foods are delicious and easy to incorporate into your everyday meals without sacrificing flavor or fun.
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Do Dietary Fats Cause High Cholesterol
Alongside cholesterol, fat has long been treated as the enemy. Saturated fat is frequently vilified as it has been linked to cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol. Red meat, butter, cheese, burgers and sausages, are high in saturated fat, as are ghee, coconut and palm oils. A diet high in saturated fat can increase blood fats, including triglycerides, as well as increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. However, recent studies are now suggesting that the saturated fats in some foods such as dairy products, including cheese, do not appear to be as harmful as once thought. This may be because other nutrients in dairy, like calcium, may modify the effects on blood fats such as triglycerides. So what dietary aspects should we be focusing on for heart health?
Increasing evidence points to overeating sugary, refined carbs as a cause of inflammation, raised insulin levels, high blood pressure and higher cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Youre likely to have also heard of man-made fats called trans fats these are unsaturated fats in our diet that behave more like a saturated fat, only worse because the body can’t recognise them.They are found in processed foods and takeaways and are the worst type of fat for raising cholesterol levels. You can avoid them by cooking as much as possible from scratch and checking labels for hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated and semi hydrogenated vegetable fats or shortening.
Why The Liver Controls Cholesterol Production
The liver is the largest internal organ in the body. It acts as a warehouse, which is to say it filters out harmful substances like chemicals and toxins, and discards them to be excreted out of the body. It also serves as an important neural organ that produces bile that is crucial for digestion. It also produces blood cells. Cholesterol is produced within the liver and is used by the body to form the membranes around the nerve fibers.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is found in all parts of the body. The liver produces the most cholesterol in fact, half of the bodys cholesterol is made there. The liver makes cholesterol because the body needs this substance to make hormone-like substances called steroids. Steroids like cortisol, for example, is used in the fight or flight response to stress. Cholesterol is also important for brain and nerve function and is needed for cell growth and repair in all parts of the body.
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Should I Stop Drinking If I Have High Cholesterol
Cutting down on alcohol will help your liver to work better at removing bad cholesterol. It may also improve your heart health in other ways by helping you lose weight and lower your blood pressure.
Our top tips for drinking alcohol are to:
- drink less than 14 units of alcohol a week
- have a few days each week where you dont drink at all
- avoid binge drinking by drinking half what you usually would
- order a small glass of wine or half a pint of beer.
Read more of our advice on alcohol.By making some of these small changes you should see your cholesterol levels go down.
What Is The Difference Between Good Cholesterol And Bad Cholesterol
Good cholesterol is known as high-density lipoprotein . It removes cholesterol from the bloodstream. Low-density lipoprotein is the bad cholesterol.
If your total cholesterol level is high because of a high LDL level, you may be at higher risk of heart disease or stroke. But, if your total cholesterol level is high only because of a high HDL level, youre probably not at higher risk.
Triglycerides are another type of fat in your blood. When you eat more calories than your body can use, it turns the extra calories into triglycerides.
Changing your lifestyle can improve your cholesterol levels, lower LDL and triglycerides, and raise HDL.
Your ideal cholesterol level will depend on your risk for heart disease.
- Total cholesterol level less than 200 is best, but it depends on your HDL and LDL levels.
- LDL cholesterol levels less than 130 is best, but this depends on your risk for heart disease.
- HDL cholesterol levels 60 or higher reduces your risk for heart disease.
- Triglycerides less than 150 milligrams per deciliter is best.
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What Foods Will Make My High Cholesterol Worse
If you have high cholesterol, its most important to eat less saturated fat. Foods that are high in saturated fats are things like fatty and processed meat, pies and pastry, butter, cream, and coconut oil.
Some foods contain dietary cholesterol but surprisingly they dont make a big difference to the cholesterol in your blood. These are foods like eggs, some shellfish like prawns and crab and offal such as liver, liver pate and kidney. They are low in saturated fat and so are fine to eat as part of a healthy diet.
Find out more about cholesterol and eggs
How Do I Know If I Have Healthy Cholesterol
Your blood fats, including cholesterol level, can be measured by a simple blood test carried out by your GP. You can read more about how to get your cholesterol checked on the NHS website. You should ask your GP for a cholesterol test if you have not had a test before and you’re over 40, if you’re overweight, high cholesterol or heart problems run in your family, or you have a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia.
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Think Fish For Heart Health
Eating fish is especially heart healthy because many fish are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated fat. It is the omega-3 fatty acids that help lower blood levels of triglycerides. Stick to fatty fish, which has more omega-3. Keep in mind that deep oil frying of any food diminishes its health benefits.
Different Ways For Lowering Cholesterol
There are four major ways people lower their bad cholesterol: diet, exercise, supplements, and medications. The first three methods have no side effects while lowering LDL, but all will take time to work effectively, so patience is key!
Here we will break down seven completely natural ways that you can help lower your cholesterol levels.
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You Can Begin To Reduce Your Bad Ldl Cholesterol Naturally By Making A Few Simple Changes In Your Diet
If your cholesterol is creeping upward, your doctor has probably told you that diet and exercisethe traditional cornerstones of heart healthcould help to bring it down. And if you’d prefer to make just one change at a time to lower your cholesterol naturally, you might want to begin with your diet. A major analysis of several controlled trials involving hundreds of men and women found that dietary changes reduced LDL and total cholesterol while exercise alone had no effect on either.
The people in the studies followed a variety of diets, from Mediterranean to low-fat to low-calorie. However, the most effective diets substituted foods with the power to lower cholesterol for those that boost cholesterol. According to Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, eating with your LDL in mind doesn’t have to be an exercise in self-deprivation. While you may have to say goodbye to a few snacks and fast foods, you can replace them with others that are equally satisfying. “You don’t have to follow an all-or-nothing approach. It’s really a matter of common sense,” she says. She suggests a few ways to start getting your cholesterol under control and keep it normal.
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Simple Ways To Naturally Lower Cholesterol Levels
What is cholesterol and how do you lower cholesterol without taking drugs prescribed from your doctor?
Cholesterol, a waxy substance that the body uses to make hormones and other important substances. Its also found in some foods such as eggs, meat, poultry, and whole-milk dairy products.
The level of cholesterol in your blood is called blood cholesterol. If its too high over time, you may develop heart disease or stroke.
We have all heard that having a high cholesterol level can lead to many life-threatening conditions, but did you know that there is good and bad cholesterol?
The good cholesterol is called HDL Cholesterol, while the bad is called LDL Cholesterol.
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What Are The Treatments For High Cholesterol
Although there is no cure for high cholesterol levels, there are ways to treat it. The first step is to stop smoking and lose weight. One of the most important factors in treating high cholesterol is diet. You should limit your cholesterol intake to 2,300 mg per day. If you already have high cholesterol levels, you should not take cholesterol medications with grapefruit juice.
Instead, check with your healthcare provider to see if you can take your cholesterol medications with orange juice. Its important to take medications as directed by your healthcare provider. Doctors prescribe statins to lower cholesterol levels.
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Saturated And Unsaturated Fat
There are 2 main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Eating too many foods high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood.
Most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat.
Foods high in saturated fat include:
- meat pies
- cakes and biscuits
- foods containing coconut or palm oil
Eating foods that contain unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat can actually help reduce cholesterol levels.
Try to replace foods containing saturated fats with small amounts of foods high in unsaturated fats, such as:
- oily fish such as mackerel and salmon
- nuts such as almonds and cashews
- seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- vegetable oils and spreads such as rapeseed or vegetable oil, sunflower, olive, corn and walnut oils
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How Is High Cholesterol Diagnosed
You cant tell if you have high cholesterol without having it checked. A simple blood test will reveal your cholesterol level.
Men 35 years of age and older and women 45 years of age and older should have their cholesterol checked. Men and women 20 years of age and older who have risk factors for heart disease should have their cholesterol checked. Teens may need to be checked if they are taking certain medicines or have a strong family history of high cholesterol. Ask your doctor how often you should have your cholesterol checked.
Risk factors for heart disease include:
- Cigarette smoking.
- Having an immediate family member who has had heart disease.
- Being overweight or obese.
How Often Should I Have My Cholesterol Tested
Adults should have their blood lipids measured every 5 years, starting at 45 years. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should start lipid blood tests at 35, because on average heart and blood vessel disease such as heart attacks and stroke happen 10 to 20 years earlier in Indigenous people.
All Australians in these age groups are eligible for a regular 20-minute heart health check with their doctor. This checks your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Your doctor can then assess your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 5 years.
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What’s Normal What’s Not
Ideal cholesterol levels are generally the same for all adults, Khera says. That means:
Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL.
LDL cholesterol below 100 mg/dL.
HDL cholesterol of at least 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dL for women.
Triglycerides less than 150 mg/dL.
Healthy adults should have their cholesterol screened every four to six years, the American Heart Association says. But if your results are borderline or you have CVD, its best to get checked much more frequently, Weintraub says. If you already take a statin, you should be screened every year.