Over a third of Americans have high cholesterol. Only half of them have it under control.
What does this mean for Americans? What are the reasons so many struggle with high cholesterol? What causes high cholesterol?
For many, it comes down to diet and exercise–the solution to most health problems.
But there is also the lack of personal education on cholesterol and keeping track of it.
What Counts As High Cholesterol?
High cholesterol is when your total cholesterol level is above 240 mg. Your total cholesterol is calculated by your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol that causes damage, your HDL, “good” cholesterol that prevents damage, and triglyceride, “bad” cholesterol, levels in your blood.
Since HDL helps fight against heart disease, higher numbers are better. However, for LDL that leads to heart disease, a lower number is more ideal.
A doctor can administer a blood test for you and check how your cholesterol levels are and assess what action to take from there.
Now, with the understanding of what high cholesterol levels are, let’s discuss:
What Causes High Cholesterol?
As mentioned before, one of the main contributors to high cholesterol is poor diet.
Diets filled with fast food burgers and fries, chicken nuggets, pizza, cookies and chips will most surely raise LDL levels.
These foods are all high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Saturated fats are slightly more harmful than foods high in cholesterol since some foods like fish are high in cholesterol, but counted as healthy fats.
Saturated fats are never considered healthy or beneficial to the body. However, both need to be monitored.
Saturated fats should not make up more than 5-6% of your diet. Meaning, if you are on a 2,000 calorie diet, only about 120 calories should come from saturated fat.
Saturated fats are high in foods like cheese, red meat, butter, and poultry skin.
Dairy and meat are needed in your diet for dairy and protein purposes, but over eating them can cause problems like high cholesterol.
Just as a poor diet can cause high cholesterol, eating healthy foods can lower cholesterol.
Replace fatty and high cholesterol foods with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts. When cooking chicken, prepare it skinless to make it healthier for you.
Adding supplements like l-arginine to your diet can increase blood flow and open up blood vessels, increase energy to help you exercise, and help your heart feel healthier.
Though diet is half the battle, exercise and weight play an important role in raising or lowering cholesterol levels.
Obese and overweight people tend to have higher levels of LDL and triglycerides, which are harmful to your heart and can cause high blood pressure as well as high cholesterol.
Exercising at least 30 minutes a day has been proven to help in weight loss, better mood, and increased levels of HDL that support a healthy cholesterol level.
Inactivity can lead to obesity and higher LDL levels, causing high cholesterol and overall generally poor health, energy, and mood.
Unfortunately, genetics also play a hand in cholesterol levels. While it may seem difficult, it is possible to lower your cholesterol with diet and exercise, and possibly prescribed medication from a doctor.
Your doctor can decide what is best for you if heredity is to blame for high cholesterol and help you stay healthy.
These causes of high cholesterol are quite easy to fix with simple daily habit changes and motivation.
If disregarded, high cholesterol can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and strokes. Adding more problems by not taking care of a smaller one is not the best solution.