High cholesterol is known as a silent killer because it doesn’t have symptoms and increases the risk for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States and stroke–the fifth leading cause of death. High cholesterol is a health issue that 47 million Americans live with, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and anyone who has a family history of the condition should be extra cautious and avoid bad habits that heighten the chance of high cholesterol. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies who explained everything to know about cholesterol. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Dr. Mitchell says, “Good habits are essential for everyone, but they are essential if high cholesterol runs in the family. High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, and heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States Fortunately, there are steps that everyone can take to lower their cholesterol levels and reduce their risk of developing heart disease. If you come from a family with a history of high cholesterol, it’s essential to be proactive about maintaining your health.”
Dr. Mitchell explains, “Cholesterol is a type of fat found in the blood. Although the body needs to function properly, too much cholesterol can be harmful. High cholesterol levels are a significant risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other health problems . There are two main types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL. LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, is the ‘bad’ type of cholesterol. This can build up in the arteries, leading to blockages. HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, is the ‘good’ type of cholesterol. This is because it helps remove LDL from the arteries and transport it to the liver, where it is broken down.”
According to Dr. Mitchell, “Many people are surprised to learn that lifestyle choices play a significant role in cholesterol levels. Things like diet, exercise, and stress management can all impact cholesterol. Here are some habits that can increase your cholesterol:
-Eating a diet high in saturated and trans fats. These fats are found in animal products, processed foods, and some vegetable oils. They can raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and make it harder for your body to remove LDL from your bloodstream.
-Being overweight or obese. Excess weight can increase your LDL levels and reduce your HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It can also lead to other health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure, further increasing your risk for heart disease.
A few daily habits you can adopt will help keep your cholesterol levels in check.”
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“One way to help lower your cholesterol is by eating a healthy diet,” says Dr. Mitchell. “This means choosing foods low in saturated and trans fats and high in fiber. Saturated and trans fats can raise your cholesterol level, while fiber helps to reduce it. In addition to making healthy food choices, you can also help lower your cholesterol by maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly. Both of these habits can help to increase your HDL (‘good’) cholesterol levels and improve your overall cardiovascular health. So if you’re looking to lower your cholesterol, start by making some changes to your diet and lifestyle.You may be surprised at how much of a difference it can make.
Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet. This means plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and limiting saturated and trans fats. Eating healthy foods will help reduce your overall cholesterol level.”
Dr. Mitchell shares, “When it comes to reducing cholesterol levels, exercise is one of the best habits you can adopt. When you’re physically active, your body produces more HDL cholesterol, which is the ‘good’ kind that helps remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries. Regular exercise also helps increase the size of your LDL particles, which makes them less harmful. And it lowers triglyceride levels, another type of fat in your blood that can contribute to heart disease. Even if you already have high cholesterol , exercising a regular part of your routine can help bring it down to a healthier level. Exercise helps increase HDL (good) cholesterol while reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol. Just 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week can make a big difference.”
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Dr. Mitchell explains, “There are many habits that we as humans tend to do that are not particularly healthy for our bodies. For example, one of those habits is smoking cigarettes. While it is no secret that smoking is bad for your health, many people are unaware of the specific ways in which it can damage your body. For example, smoking can increase your cholesterol levels. This is because the chemicals in cigarettes cause a build-up of plaque in your arteries, which makes it difficult for blood to flow freely. In addition, smoking causes inflammation and oxidative stress, which can contribute to high cholesterol levels. The good news is that it is never too late to quit smoking and improve your overall health. If you are struggling to give up smoking, many resources are available to help.”