Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that can also be referred to as a lipid and is considered to be important for allowing your body to function as required however having too much Cholesterol within your blood (hyperlipidemia) has been linked with having adverse effects on your health.

Carried through your body via the bloodstream by proteins, the possibility of the lipids and proteins combining is high, creating lipoproteins that have been linked with both harmful and protective properties, dependant on the type of lipoprotein created.

As the body creates the lipoproteins through normal functionality, your level of intake of cholesterol found in food can result in an excess amount of harmful lipoproteins being created.

Lipoproteins - Good and Bad

As explained previously, cholesterol has been linked with both good and bad effects on the human body, dictated by the type of lipoproteins that are created:

Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL): Considered to be the 'bad' lipoproteins, their function is to carry cholesterol from the liver, where they are created, to cells within the body that require the fatty substance that they are made up of. Due to the composition of LDL, they have been found to be able to create fatty build ups within the artery walls, potentially leading to the development of disease.

High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL): Tasked with the function of carrying cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver, where they are then either broken down or passed through the body as waste. As HDL is seen to be helping the human body to avoid the build up of fatty deposits within the body cells, they are referred to as being the 'good' lipoproteins.

What Does Lower Cholesterol Prevent?

Medical tests have shown evidence to support that a lower cholesterol level within the body can help to reduce the risk of:

  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Mini Stroke
  • Narrowing of Arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • Blood Clotting

All of the problems listed above have been linked with further health problems which span from the characteristic that cholesterol carries, leading to the narrowing and blockage of blood carrying arteries within the body, causing a reduced amount of blood flow to important organs within the body.

As a result of blockages and restrictions to the flow of blood within the body, the risk of coronary heart disease increases and continues to do so as your cholesterol levels grow making you more prone to pain within the chest and/or arm (angina) while participating in physical or stressful activities.

Causes of High Cholesterol

High cholesterol can be caused in a number of ways, meaning that there is a spreaded risk of being able to increase your chances of suffering from high cholesterol thus meaning that you need to take action to combat it in order to remain healthy.

The main causes of high cholesterol are:

  • Diet: Eating unhealthy foods means that you are exposing yourself to higher dosages of cholesterol during your meals and although many foods contain so called dietary cholesterol, it is the ones with high levels of saturated fats that cause the most issues.
  • Smoking: Cigarettes contain a chemical known as Acrolein and that has been linked with causing complications within the arteries when they are trying to carry fatty deposits to the liver, making it harder for HDL to return the deposits to the liver for the breaking up process.
  • Diabetes or High Blood Pressure
  • History of stroke or heart disease within the family

How to Reduce Your Cholesterol

Taking action to reduce your cholesterol levels is highly recommended if you want to enjoy a healthy life and that means that sometimes you have to be willing to make lifestyle changes for the better.

Food really is one of the biggest factors when it comes to trying to lower your cholesterol levels, cutting out foods that contain high levels of saturated fat and replacing it with healthy alternatives and increased intake of vegetables.

Stop Smoking: We know that stopping smoking isn't an easy task for some people and many are unable to combat the habit through willpower alone but there are alternatives methods out there that can help to reduce the feeling of cravings. (See more about stop smoking aids here).

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