Cream: A Real Cholesterol Bomb
While generally all dairy products in their raw forms are high cholesterol foods, cream is one you particularly have to watch out for.
Theres little point in switching from ice cream to healthy fruit salad desserts if you end up smothering them in cream anyway 🙂
An average tablespoon of cream can hold around 15-20 milligrams of cholesterol.
If you use cream it becomes very easy to exceed you daily recommended intake for cholesterol after eating only a relatively small amount of food.
What Is High Cholesterol
High cholesterol is when theres too much bad cholesterol and/or not enough good cholesterol in your blood.
This picture shows what it looks like if you have low cholesterol, normal cholesterol and bad cholesterol levels.
Sometimes health professionals talk about the terms dyslipidaemia and hyperlipidaemia. Both are clinical terms that mean your levels of cholesterol are outside the normal range.
Symptoms of high cholesterol
You wont know if you have high cholesterol because it doesnt usually have symptoms. The only way to know is to have a blood test.
Why does high cholesterol matter?
When your cholesterol is too high it can build up as plaque in your arteries. If the plaque gets too big, or breaks off, it can cause a heart attack and stroke. This risk also increases when your triglycerides are too high.
Your doctor will use the results of your blood test and your other heart attack risk factors to decide whether you need medication to lower your cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
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Why Should I Lower My Cholesterol
Evidence strongly indicates that high cholesterol can increase the risk of:
- narrowing of the arteries
- transient ischaemic attack often known as a “mini stroke”
- peripheral arterial disease
This is because cholesterol can build up in the artery wall, restricting the blood flow to your heart, brain and the rest of your body. It also increases the risk of a blood clot developing somewhere in your body.
Your risk of developing coronary heart disease also rises as your blood’s cholesterol level increases. This can cause pain in your chest or arm during stress or physical activity .
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What Is High Ldl
Cholesterol itself is a necessary substance in the body. Its manufactured in your liver and it can be present in certain foods, especially meats, eggs, and dairy. LDL is a lipoproteina substance that conveys cholesterol to cells, aiding in maintaining cell structure, and serving as a precursor for substances vital to human function. Everyone has some amount of this lipoprotein, but problems arise when these are elevated.
When there is an excess of LDL, plaques build up in the arteries, causing atherosclerosis and reducing blood flow. When your hearts arteries are affected, insufficient oxygen levels damage cardiac muscles and cause CAD, angina , and even heart attack. Further, arteries in other parts of the body can also be affected, leading to peripheral artery disease and stroke.
Common Causes Of High Cholesterol And What To Do About Them
High cholesterol, a well-known health condition among Americans, is on the decline but remains a threat. The percentage of U.S. adults suffering from high cholesterol dropped by an impressive 6% between 2000 and 2016, from 18.3% down to just 12%. This is a step in a positive direction, but higher-than-recommended cholesterol is still a serious condition and prevention depends on a thorough understanding of its causes. High cholesterol is a key risk factor for heart disease and remains the leading cause of death in the United States.
High cholesterol is largely governed by lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, and smoking and that means its both treatable and preventable. The following list will explore the five most common causes of high cholesterol and the best ways to achieve healthy levels.
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Medical Causes That Raise Your Cholesterol Levels
Certain drugs and hormonal therapies are known to cause hyperlipidemia. They are classified as medical causes and include:
- Estrogen and corticosteroids can raise the levels of triglycerides and HDL.
- Oral contraceptives
- Beta blockers prescribed for hypertension and glaucoma
- Diuretics prescribed for hypertension and to get rid of extra accumulated fluid in the body.
Do I Need To Cut Down On Dietary Cholesterol
Most people dont need to cut down on the cholesterol thats found in foods- so you can still enjoy eggs and shellfish.
Its much more important to cut down on foods which contain saturated fats. Thats because saturated fats affect how the liver handles cholesterol. So, eating saturated fats can raise your blood cholesterol. Try to replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats which are better for your heart.
For some people those with familial hypercholesterolaemia , those who have high cholesterol, and those who are at high risk of or have cardiovascular disease the recommendation is to limit cholesterol in food to no more than 300mg a day. In the case of FH, ideally less than 200 mg a day.
Even though dietary cholesterol only has a small effect on blood cholesterol, people with high cholesterol and FH already have high levels of blood cholesterol, so it seems sensible not to eat too much cholesterol in food.
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Why You Should Avoid Cholesterol
Cholesterol circulates throughout the bloodstream, and too much of it can have negative effects on your body, especially your heart. High levels of “bad” cholesterol can raise your risk of heart disease or stroke.
When you have too much LDL cholesterol in your system, it can form plaque, which is a buildup on the walls of the blood vessels. This buildup narrows the blood vessels, which blocks the healthy flow of blood in the body and can potentially cause a heart attack or other problems. For this reason, experts recommend consuming less than 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol per day.
Cholesterol also travels within the central nervous system and is important for normal brain functioning. Too much of it, however, may have negative consequences for learning and memory. Reducing cholesterol through the use of drugs called statins may improve memory, but more research is needed in this regard.
Kidney Disease & Cholesterol Association
The clinical study reveals high triglyceride has an association with increased creatinine level. Additionally, it indicates a decrease in kidney function.
Low HDL cholesterol has associated with greater risk. But, total and LDL cholesterol is not associated with the risk of chronic kidney disease. Elevated levels of creatinine in the blood indicate a decline in the kidney function. The increase of 0.4 milligrams of creatinine/deciliter of blood indicates a decrease in kidney function.
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What Makes Ldl Cholesterol Too High
A range of medical and lifestyle factors cause high LDL, including:
- Diet: Diets high in saturated fats, salts, and cholesterol and low in healthy proteins and fiber can lead to high LDL.
- Lack of physical activity: Not getting enough exercise and being sedentary contributes to weight gain and can also push levels up. You may see higher LDL if you don’t get a minimum of 30 minutes a day of activity.
- Weight status: Being overweight or obese greatly increases the chances of developing high LDL. Even modest gains in weight can push levels to unhealthy ranges.
- Alcohol and tobacco: Smoking and drinking are both associated with high cholesterol, among many other detrimental effects on health.
- Genetics: High LDL can be inherited, a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia . The severity of FH ranges, but those with the homozygous formin which both parents are carriers of the faulty genemay have extremely high amounts of this type of cholesterol.
- Medications: Taking several classes of drugs can lead to spikes in LDL. These include those for heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation, certain viruses, and seizures, among other conditions. Talk to your doctor about how these prescriptions may impact cholesterol.
- Health conditions: Diseases and conditions that cause high LDL include type 2 diabetes, pregnancy, chronic kidney disease, and hypothyroidism.
Lack Of Physical Activity
Certainly related to the above, insufficient physical activity can also drive LDL higher. The good news, however, is that even modest increases in the amount of exercise you get can help a great deal. Ideally, doctors may want you getting up to 90 minutes a day of physical activity however, even 30 to 45 minutes regularly can be helpful.
At bare minimum, the surgeon general recommends that adults get 2.5 hours of moderate exercise every week. This can include:
The Dietary Guidelines For Americans Summarized
Heres a summary of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans:
Avoid industrial trans fats.
Replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats, and aim to get less than 10% of your calories from saturated fats.
Reduce calories from solid animal fats with plant oils when possible.
Prioritize seafood , lean meats, poultry, eggs, legumes , nuts, seeds, and soy products over red and processed meats as sources of protein.
Triglycerides In Your Blood
In addition to cholesterol, your blood also contains a type of fat called triglycerides, which are stored in your bodys fat deposits. Hormones release triglycerides to make energy between meals.
When you eat, your body converts any extra energy it doesnt need right away into triglycerides.
Like cholesterol, your body needs triglycerides to work properly. However, there is evidence to suggest that some people with high triglycerides are at increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
If you regularly eat more energy than you need, you may have high triglycerides .
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What Are Symptoms Of Familial Hypercholesterolemia
Regular cholesterol screening is the best way to detect the most prominent signs or symptoms of this condition, which is high LDL cholesterol levels. Other common signs of this condition include the following:
- Family history of high total and LDL cholesterol levels and/or early heart attack
- High LDL cholesterol levels that do not respond well to medications
- Chest pain
- Cholesterol deposits in the eyelids that usually dont cause any problems
- Cholesterol buildup in the skin or tendons that can be painful, depending where on the body they appear
- Cholesterol around the cornea of the eye, which doesnt interfere with vision
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Hypothyroidism And High Cholesterol
The thyroid gland situated in the neck in front of the windpipe can become overactive or underactive.
Thyroid hormones help to produce cholesterol in the body and also to get rid of any excess of it in order to maintain normal levels.
An underactive thyroid means that lower levels of the thyroid hormones are circulating in the blood and subsequently, your body is unable to break down the LDL cholesterol as efficiently. This causes more cholesterol to float around in the blood.
An overactive thyroid has the opposite effect and can drop the levels to abnormally low values.
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Tests For High Ldl Cholesterol
There are several different tests doctors use to check for high LDL cholesterol levels
- Direct LDL Test This test is purely to measure your LDL levels and does not test or check anything else. This test can be carried out at any time of the day, regardless of whether you have eaten or not.
- Fasting Cholesterol Test This type of test measures HDL and LDL cholesterol, as well as fats and something known as triglycerides.
- Simple Cholesterol Test This is the test most commonly carried out by the doctor in his surgery, the results of which will determine whether the person requires any further testing. This test is basic and simply measures cholesterol level, whether you have eaten before the test or not will have no bearings on the results.
Do Plant Foods Contain Cholesterol
While a plant-based diet tends to maintain lower cholesterol levels than an omnivorous one, there are still plenty of vegan cholesterol sources to watch for, especially if you’re someone genetically prone to high cholesterol levels.
Read more about the plant sources of cholesterol below and how to quickly implement a lower cholesterol diet full of healthy and delicious plant-based foods.
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List Of Popular Foods High In Cholesterol
It doesnt take a doctor to tell you that you shouldnt be eating fried chicken and fries every day if you are trying to maintain a healthy cholesterol level or even watching your weight in general.
But what other foods high in cholesterol should you be at least reducing in your every day diet?
If you like to get information in a more auditory and visual manner, take a look at this video where youll get to see which kids of high cholesterol foods to avoid. The key is which kids of fats the foods contain and here youll want to stay clear of saturated fats and trans fats. Its all nicely explained in the 4 minutes video below.
Recent Guidelines For Normal Cholesterol Levels
Your body needs some cholesterol to function properly, including some LDL. But if your LDL levels are too high, it can raise your risk of serious health problems.
In 2013, the American College of Cardiologists and the American Heart Association developed new guidelines for the treatment of high cholesterol.
Before this change, doctors would manage cholesterol based on numbers in a cholesterol levels chart. Your doctor would measure your total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels. They would then decide whether to prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication based on how your numbers compared to the numbers in the chart.
Under the new guidelines, in addition to your cholesterol levels, treatment recommendations consider other risk factors for heart disease. These risk factors include diabetes and the estimated 10-year risk for a cardiac event such as a heart attack or stroke. So what your normal cholesterol levels are depends on whether you have other risk factors for heart disease.
These new guidelines recommend that if you dont have risk factors for heart disease, your doctor should prescribe treatment if your LDL is greater than 189 mg/dL. To find out what your personal cholesterol recommendations are, talk to your doctor.
With the changes mentioned above in the treatment guidelines for high cholesterol, cholesterol charts are no longer considered the best way for doctors to gauge the management of cholesterol levels in adults.
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Triglycerides A Different Type Of Lipid
Triglycerides are another type of lipid. Theyre different from cholesterol. While your body uses cholesterol to build cells and certain hormones, it uses triglycerides as a source of energy.
When you eat more calories than your body can use right away, it converts those calories into triglycerides. It stores triglycerides in your fat cells. It also uses lipoproteins to circulate triglycerides through your bloodstream.
If you regularly eat more calories than your body can use, your triglyceride levels can get high. This may raise your risk of several health problems, including heart disease and stroke.
Your doctor can use a simple blood test to measure your triglyceride level, as well as your cholesterol levels. Learn how to get your triglyceride level tested.
Take A Look At Your Lifestyle
You can make lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol numbers.
Your body naturally produces all the LDL cholesterol it needs. An unhealthy lifestyle makes your body produce more LDL cholesterol than it needs. This is the cause of high LDL cholesterol for most people.
Behaviors that can negatively affect your cholesterol levels include:
- Unhealthy diet
- Smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke
- Being overweight or obese
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What To Eat: Foods That Lower Cholesterol
There is great evidence to support functional foods that help lower cholesterol, Featherstun says. Add these choices to your diet:
Plant stanols and sterols These are naturally occurring compounds found in plant cell walls, Featherstun says. They interfere with cholesterol absorption in the small intestine and can help lower LDL cholesterol. A study published in October 2012 in Lipids in Health and Disease found that eating 9 to 10 grams of stanols per day can help lower LDL cholesterol by more than 17 and as much as 22 percent. You can get plant stanols and sterols in margarine-like spreads such as Benecol and Smart Balance, available in the dairy section of most grocery stores.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats These fats can help decrease LDL cholesterol, Featherstun says. To get them, eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, trout, herring, or king mackerel, at least twice a week. Other good sources of unsaturated fats include chia seeds, avocados, almonds, walnuts, and olive oil.
Soy foods Soy proteins contain isoflavones and phytoestrogens, which block both cholesterol absorption and new cholesterol production, Featherstun says. Good sources of soy protein include tofu, soy milk, and edamame. Try to replace one daily animal protein item with a soy protein alternative, Featherstun suggests.
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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