What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your body that helps in hormone and vitamin D production. It also aids in producing the bile acids that help your body digest fat. However, your body only needs a small amount of cholesterol to perform these functions. Higher amounts can potentially lead to serious health issues.
There are two types of cholesterol:
- High-density lipoproteins (HDL) – This is the good type of cholesterol that your body needs.
- Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) – This is the bad type of cholesterol that raises your risk of heart disease.
How high cholesterol negatively affects your body
When your cholesterol levels are higher than your body needs, waxy deposits begin to form in your arteries. Over time, these deposits can build up to the point where they are almost blocking the passage of blood to and from your heart. This puts extra strain on your heart and can cause severe chest pain, also known as angina. If an artery becomes completely blocked, you run the risk of having a heart attack.
Causes of high cholesterol
Genetic factors do play some role in the way your body processes cholesterol, but many of the other causes of high cholesterol are in your control, such as your weight, exercise habits and diet. Obesity is one of the main causes of high cholesterol, along with unhealthy diets that incorporate foods with high levels of fat and cholesterol. A lack of physical activity is also strongly linked to high cholesterol.
Tips for lowering your cholesterol
If you or one of your loved ones suffers from high cholesterol, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce this heart disease risk factor.
- Get some exercise – This is the easiest thing you can do to help lower your cholesterol. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. If you can't work out every day, do as many days as you can. Every little bit helps.
- Eat a healthy diet – Try to steer clear of foods that are high in saturated fats. Focus on healthy foods like fish, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Foods that are high in fiber can also help to boost your body's ability to get rid of bad cholesterol.
- Don't smoke – In addition to the harmful effects smoking has on your lungs, it also reduces your body's ability to eliminate cholesterol, leading to more of it in your bloodstream.
- Consider taking supplements – Supplements containing fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids have shown to help reduce cholesterol. Always check with your doctor before beginning to take any supplements.
If you are worried about your – or your loved one's – cholesterol levels, talk to your doctor at Velocity Care. Our highly trained doctors can test your cholesterol levels and offer personalized recommendations that can help you reduce your risk of high cholesterol and get your cholesterol back into the healthy range. Visit our website to find a Velocity Care walk-in clinic near you.
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