The AHA advises getting your cholesterol checked if you are over 20 so that you can determine your levels and take the necessary steps. If cholesterol is high, your doctor may recommend further diagnosis.
High cholesterol level is often hereditary since it runs in families. On the other hand, other lifestyle factors, including diet, exercise, and weight, also affect it. As a result, people with high cholesterol are more likely to have heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral artery disease. Unfortunately, high cholesterol puts a lot of adults at risk. The onset can be as early as their 20s and increase with age.
A blood test is the only way to know how high your cholesterol levels are. But first, we need to know what “high” cholesterol is and how to avoid it.
This article will thoroughly examine the causes of high cholesterol, what to do if you have been diagnosed with it, and the effective ways to reduce cholesterol while maintaining healthy levels.
Cholesterol – An Overview
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver and found in every body cell. It is necessary to produce vitamin D, synthesise hormones, form cells, and produce the bile acids that aid in food digestion. The liver produces almost 75% of the cholesterol your body needs; the rest of you can get it from foods like dairy and red meat.
The human body needs cholesterol to make healthy cells. Having too much of it can increase the risk of heart disease. When the body has excessive amounts of fat, which results in artery blockage, heart disease, and other health problems may occur. Therefore, anybody over 20 must get their cholesterol checked at least once every five years. And you can discuss it with your doctor, who can help you control it.
If that’s the case, a personalised diet plan will help you maintain a healthy cholesterol level, improve your health, and achieve your fitness goals. For example, you can reduce your cholesterol with the help of HealthifyMe.
With more than 25 million users, HealthifyMe is the most popular health and fitness platform. Based on insights from doctors, nutritionists, and fitness instructors, the app helps manage several prevalent lifestyle diseases. Moreover, it offers easy-to-implement eating and fitness programmes. Furthermore, it has a built-in calorie tracker. In addition, the HealthifyMe app has a tracker for tracking your meals, exercise, water intake, sleep, and weight loss.
Types of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a kind of lipid. The liver makes lipoproteins to transport cholesterol, lipids, and triglycerides through the bloodstream.
The two primary lipoproteins that carry cholesterol are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). To simplify, these are the combinations of lipids and proteins.
“Bad” Cholesterol or LDL Cholesterol (LDL-C)
Low-density lipoproteins, or LDL, carry most cholesterol in the blood. This cholesterol is “bad” because it combines with other substances to form fatty deposits, called plaques, in your arteries.
LDL cholesterol rises when people consume a diet high in trans and saturated fats. Most people are healthy if their LDL level is below 100. However, heart disease patients may need medication to lower their LDL levels.
“Good” Cholesterol or HDL Cholesterol (HDL-C)
High-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as “good” cholesterol, HDL, or “healthy” cholesterol, is responsible for removing “bad” cholesterol from the bloodstream and preventing its accumulation in the arteries.
If more HDL is in the blood, there are fewer chances of a heart attack or stroke. In addition, healthy fats like olive oil may increase HDL cholesterol.
Triglycerides, a form of fat transported in the blood and deposited in fat cells all over the body, are created by the body from extra calories, sugar, and alcohol. Triglyceride levels are typically high in persons who are overweight, sedentary, smoke or consume large amounts of alcohol.
Triglycerides may cause your arteries to become more fragile. For example, suppose your triglyceride score is 150 or higher. In that case, you are most likely to develop metabolic syndrome.
These are responsible for an increased risk of various heart issues, including strokes and heart attacks, obesity, and high blood pressure.
The HealthifyMe Note
You may have a higher risk of heart disease or stroke if your LDL level is high, which spikes your overall cholesterol level. However, if your high HDL level is the only reason your total cholesterol is high, you won’t be at greater risk. A high cholesterol count could be due to high triglyceride levels, which are seen when excess calories are consumed. However, a healthy diet and exercise can help raise HDL, lower LDL and triglycerides, and improve cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol Level Chart
A blood test called a lipid profile provides this count. Adults should have a total cholesterol level below 200 mg/dL, which is the sum of two types of fat: cholesterol, both “bad” (LDL) and “good” (HDL). You should maintain an LDL cholesterol level of less than 100 mg/dL and an HDL cholesterol level of at least 60 mg/dL.
The chart below illustrates optimal to high cholesterol levels. According to the NIH, most people should be at these levels. The results for each measurement are given in mg/dL.
Total Cholesterol Level and Category
- Less than 200mg/dL: Desirable
- 200-239 mg/dL: Borderline high
- 240mg/dL and above: High
LDL (Bad) Cholesterol Level and Category
- Less than 100mg/dL: Optimal (best for your health)
- 100-129mg/dL: Near-optimal
- 130-159 mg/dL: Borderline high
- 160-189 mg/dL: High
- 190 mg/dL and above: Very High
HDL (Good) Cholesterol Level and Category
- 60 mg/dL and higher: Considered protective against heart disease
- 40-59 mg/dL: The higher, the better
- Less than 40 mg/dL: A significant risk factor for heart disease
The HDL level is the only difference between male and female cholesterol levels. However, HDL levels tend to be higher in women than in men. For men, the ideal HDL level is at least 40 mg/dL, and for women, it is at least 50 mg/dL.
Understanding High Cholesterol
High cholesterol, also called hypercholesterolemia, is when you have too much cholesterol in your blood. The CDC estimates that nearly 94 million Americans suffer from high cholesterol.
If your cholesterol levels are high, plaque, a fatty deposit, can form on the walls of your arteries. The plaque can restrict oxygen supply to the heart muscle and stop blood flow. If blood and oxygen levels at heart drop sufficiently, people may experience shortness of breath or chest pain.
A heart attack may also occur if plaque completely blocks the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle. If the plaque blocks a blood vessel that carries blood to your brain, you might have a stroke. Also, high cholesterol is common among people with diabetes.
Symptoms of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol is typically a “silent” condition. Most of the time, it doesn’t show any symptoms. Many people don’t even know they have high cholesterol until they have severe complications. The tell-tale signs are peripheral artery disease, high blood pressure, a heart attack, or a stroke.
A routine cholesterol screening is essential. A blood test is the only way to determine if you have it.
Causes of High Cholesterol
According to research, several factors can affect cholesterol levels. For example, with age, a person’s total cholesterol levels vary. Gender may also play a role. Factors that influence cholesterol levels:
Your liver makes cholesterol, but you also get it from food. So consuming excessive amounts of foods high in saturated and trans-fats can raise cholesterol levels.
Obesity and inactivity are additional contributors to high cholesterol. Triglycerides are usually more elevated in obese people.
Being physically active, wherein one follows a regular fitness regime, helps increase HDL – the good cholesterol!
Your family history also influences your cholesterol level. For example, high cholesterol tends to run in families. So if someone in your immediate family has it, you might also have it.
Even young children can have unhealthy cholesterol, but people over 40 are much more likely to have it. Also, your liver’s ability to eliminate LDL cholesterol decreases as you age.
Smoking and Tobacco Use
Smoking and tobacco use can also raise cholesterol levels. These can lower HDL and raise LDL.
Cholesterol levels can increase if people take certain medications, such as steroids, birth control, retinoids, and some blood pressure medications like diuretics and HIV/AIDS.
A higher cholesterol level may result in medical conditions like diabetes, peripheral arterial disease (PAD), hyperlipidaemia or hypercholesterolemia, chronic renal disease, and HIV/AIDS.
High cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition in which cholesterol and other deposits form on the walls of the arteries. These fat deposits (plaques) can make it harder for blood to flow through your arteries, which can cause the following problems.
- Chest pain or angina
- Heart attack
- High blood Pressure
- Chronic Renal Disease
- Peripheral Vascular Disease
- Bile Imbalance, which may result in gallstone
Managing High Cholesterol Levels
There are primarily two ways to lower your total cholesterol level: heart-healthy lifestyle changes and drug treatment. In addition, the NIH offers management and prevention recommendations for high cholesterol. These are:
Avoid Trans Fats
Your blood cholesterol level rises due to eating foods high in saturated and trans fats. Limiting these foods will assist in regulating and lowering blood cholesterol while following a heart-healthy diet.
A healthy diet includes lean meats, avocados, almonds, and low-fat dairy items. Also, you can consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Use Olive Oil instead of “Butter.”
Olive oil can lower LDL cholesterol by 15% when used as a substitute for butter. In addition, olive oil contains heart-healthy “good” fats. Therefore, opt for extra virgin olive oil. These have more antioxidants and less processing.
You can lower cholesterol without losing a lot of weight. Even a ten-pound weight loss can lower your LDL by as much as 8% if you are overweight. Your HDL is also up.
You will need to persevere, though, if you’re serious about losing weight. One to two pounds per week of weight loss is a healthy and achievable target.
You could develop heart disease if you don’t exercise. Exercise lowers LDL levels in the blood and improves total cholesterol levels. You can try simple activities like taking a walk, joining a yoga class, taking a bicycle to work, and participating in sports. An ideal amount of daily exercise is 30 minutes.
Monitor Your Cholesterol Levels
A cholesterol test can examine your blood’s fat and cholesterol levels to determine your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
The CDC recommends that most healthy people get their cholesterol levels screened every four to six years. However, those at higher risk for high cholesterol or those with a family history of the illness should undergo testing more frequently.
The HealthifyMe Note
High cholesterol initially lacks symptoms. Therefore, it is essential to have your cholesterol levels checked regularly. However, avoid tobacco and its by-products, exercise frequently, and eat a well-balanced diet. In that case, you can achieve and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Additionally, these lifestyle changes may help lower your risk of complications associated with high cholesterol.
Following a heart-healthy lifestyle and exercising are two ways to prevent your risk of developing high cholesterol. To help prevent and control high cholesterol, you can:
- Eat a low-salt, low- carbohydrates and fat-free diet that emphasises fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Avoid foods that contain trans-fat and saturated fat (such as fried and packaged foods).
- Limit the consumption of animal fats and use good fats in moderation.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Quit smoking
- Physical activity, at least 30 minutes a day
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Manage stress
High cholesterol affects people of all ages, even those who regularly exercise and feel healthy. Furthermore, certain medical conditions increase a person’s risk of heart disease and high cholesterol. There are no initial symptoms of high cholesterol. The only way to find out is with a simple blood test. However, you can manage this condition and avoid complications by consulting your doctor. Follow your doctor’s treatment plan and lead a healthy lifestyle to lower your risk of high cholesterol-related complications.
Suppose you’ve tried many diets but still have trouble managing cholesterol. In that case, it’s time to try HealthifyMe and change your perspective on fitness and nutrition. Start your lower cholesterol level journey immediately, and use the calorie counter to monitor your progress. This award-winning health and calorie tracker has helped around 15 million people improve their confidence and shed pounds.
There isn’t one fitness strategy that works for everyone. To address that, HealthifyMe contains Ria, an AI-powered humanised support offering personalised health and weight loss advice based on your diet and exercise logs.
The HealthifyMe app can also help you monitor the following things:
- By monitoring your calorie intake, diet, and exercise routine, HealthifyMe can assess your health and keep an eye on your weight.
- HealthifyMe experts may use your data. So, they can help you set healthy goals and work toward obtaining them. Also, you will get quick responses, opinions, and feedback regarding your exercise and diet programme.
- It offers other lifestyle suggestions and counsel from professionals.
With HealthifyMe’s personalised coach, you can customise your diet plan to meet your specific dietary requirements and preferences. Additionally, it provides easy-to-follow workout videos.
HealthifyMe is accessible to iOS and Android users. After downloading the app and purchasing a plan, you can monitor your weight reduction, fat loss progress, and daily calories at a glance. Ultimately, these help you to lower your cholesterol. Of course, you must pay attention to your diet and workout routine, heed your coach’s guidance, and observe the changes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. How do you feel if your cholesterol is high?
A. Typically, there are no specific symptoms associated with high cholesterol. High cholesterol is a condition in which blood cholesterol levels are high enough to cause health issues like heart disease and stroke. A lipid profile or blood test is the only way to determine cholesterol levels.
Q. How can I lower my cholesterol fast?
A. One can lower cholesterol levels by adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle routine or choosing medications. An excellent place to start is with a heart-healthy diet. You must eliminate red meat and full-fat dairy products from your diet because they both contain saturated fats that raise cholesterol levels. Instead, try to focus on eating more lean proteins and soluble fibre. In addition, regular exercise, losing weight, and abstaining from alcohol and smoking may speed up cholesterol reduction.
Q. What is the leading cause of high cholesterol?
A. Several factors, including an unhealthy diet, inactivity, smoking, and an underlying condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, can raise blood cholesterol levels. Age and gender can also have an impact on cholesterol levels.
Q. What foods are bad for high cholesterol?
A. Foods high in trans and saturated fats such as packaged baked goods like cakes and cookies to red meat and full-fat dairy (butter, cream, full-fat milk, cheese).
Q. What are the three signs of high cholesterol?
A. Symptoms of high cholesterol are rare. But if the blood contains too much cholesterol, these fatty deposits and other substances can build up on the artery walls and cause atherosclerosis. In addition, because these deposits can reduce the size of arteries and slow down the blood flow, they can cause complications like chest pain, heart attack, and stroke.
Q. What is the best drink to lower cholesterol?
A. Some drinks and the right food can help reduce cholesterol levels. While on a weight loss journey, you can include berry smoothies, pomegranate juice, citrus juice, red wine, soy milk, and green tea. However, lowering cholesterol levels takes time. Changes to one’s eating routine or way of life can take weeks or even a long time to give results.
Q. Does high cholesterol make you tired?
A. High cholesterol does not typically result in fatigue but can contribute to heart conditions like coronary artery disease. However, take a statin to treat high cholesterol. You might experience fatigue, memory loss, or confusion as side effects. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should discuss them with your doctor.
Q. Can high cholesterol be cured?
A. High cholesterol can be reduced and managed with diet, exercise, weight loss, and sometimes medication. The treatment you receive for high cholesterol varies from person to person and depends on your cholesterol level. However, one may not completely cure high cholesterol.
Q. What foods raise cholesterol?
A. Foods high in saturated and trans fats, such as those found in meat, butter, cheese, processed foods, fried foods, and full-fat dairy products, can increase cholesterol levels. However, you can reduce your LDL cholesterol by 8–10 per cent by limiting your intake of saturated fats to less than 7 percent of your total daily calories.
Q. Are bananas good for cholesterol?
A. Because of their high fibre and potassium content, bananas are an excellent choice for lowering cholesterol and improving blood glucose levels. Additionally, it is an excellent soluble fibre source, enhancing immunity. Check in with your HealthifyMe Nutritionist, who can recommend the correct serving and frequency.
Q. What is a healthy cholesterol level by age?
A. Your cholesterol levels indicate how much cholesterol is circulating in your blood. HDL, or “good” cholesterol, should be greater than 60 mg/dl. Your “bad” cholesterol, or LDL, should be below 100 mg/dl. The total cholesterol level—the sum of HDL and LDL—should be less than 200 mg/dl. If these numbers change, there is a high chance that your cholesterol will fluctuate, which could result in a heart attack or stroke in future.
Q. What is the danger level of cholesterol?
A. A person is at high risk for heart disease if their total cholesterol level is higher than 240 mg/dl and their LDL level is higher than 160 mg/dl. Their HDL level is lower than 40 mg/dl. It’s best to see a doctor if these numbers go up and down on your blood test. Otherwise, it might result in other long-term conditions, especially heart-related ailments.