High cholesterol is a very big problem in the United States. As out waistlines grow, our cholesterol may do the same. If you have extremely high cholesterol, you may have to resort to medication. If you have moderate cholesterol problems, a low cholesterol diet just might do the trick.
High cholesterol is a very big problem in our country because of the obesity epidemic. High cholesterol and obesity both lead to heart disease, one of the leading causes of preventable death in the nation; according to some studies, the second most common cause of preventable death, beaten only by car accidents.
Heart disease is caused by plaque in the arteries, which builds up when one has an overabundance of cholesterol. If plaque surrounds your teeth, you’ll develop cavities. It’s almost the same scenario with heart disease, except there is much more at risk than a tooth. A low cholesterol diet can help before things spiral out of control.
Before we begin to understand high cholesterol, we must know what cholesterol is. Cholesterol is a natural fat substance in the body, and we all need to have it. But when we have too much, the problems begin. There are two types of cholesterol: high density lipoproteins (HDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL). HDLs are often called the “good” cholesterol. This cholesterol prevents artery blockage. It frees up any cholesterol in the body and ships it to the liver, which quickly disposes of it. LDLs are the “bad” cholesterol. This cholesterol ships directly into the blood, which causes vital arteries to be blocked.
If you have high LDL, chances are you have at least one of these risk factors:
If you eat foods rich in saturated fats, cholesterol, or sodium, such as eggs, or fatty meats, your LDL may increase significantly. If you do eat this way, your weight may increase as well. In this scenario, LDL rises while HDL falls at the same time.
Even if you are at a healthy weight range, no exercise may increase bad cholesterol as well. In fact, there are many people who are at a healthy weight but still have high cholesterol. Lack of exercise and poor diet is the cause for their high cholesterol.
If you have parents or other family members who have high LDL, you may get it eventually too. There is a good chance of this occurrence if your family has a history of heart disease.
Gender and age
Men are more prone to develop high cholesterol, but women are more likely to develop high cholesterol after menopause. After the age of 60, women’s LDL begins to settle, although no one really knows why. This is when medication may be introduced.
If you enjoy a glass of wine or two at Christmas, you probably don’t have a problem. Drinking alcohol increases the “good” cholesterol, but not the “bad” cholesterol. If you consume unusual amounts of alcohol on a daily basis, you may be an alcoholic and your liver and heart will suffer for it.
How a low cholesterol diet can help
A low cholesterol diet can improve many cases of high cholesterol. Before you decide to embark on any type of dietary change, you should consult your doctor. If the doctor gives you the green light, he or she may refer you to a dietician or nutritionist.
Here are some foods/products you should consider incorporating in your low cholesterol diet:
- Whole grains
- Polyunsaturated oil
- Brown or white rice
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
Here are some foods/products that may undermine your quest for health. Try to avoid the following cholesterol-laden foods:
- Store-bought pastries
- Creamy sauces
- Movie popcorn