When we first hear the word “Cholesterol”, we form a negative image of it in our head. Cholesterol is basically a waxy substance found in human blood. It is required by your body to build healthy cells. It is not actually bad but its increased level is. High levels of cholesterol can increase the risk of heart diseases. Your body starts developing deposits of fat in your blood vessels and these deposits eventually grow, causing an obstruction in blood flow through the arteries.
In some cases, these deposits break forming a clot that results in a heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol can be inherited but most of the times, it’s the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices because of which it’s preventable and treatable. However, what causes high cholesterol levels and how to determine them? Are there any symptoms associated with it?
Factors that can increase the risk of bad cholesterol are:
- Eating saturated fat and trans fats
- Foods like red meat and full-fat dairy products that are high in cholesterol
- Lack of exercise
- Having a high blood sugar level
Generally, there are no symptoms associated with cholesterol that can be noticed. There are emergency events in most of the cases such as a heart attack or stroke. However, increased levels of cholesterol can be detected by a blood test. Ask your doctor to give you a cholesterol test after you turn 20 years old. Get your cholesterol rechecked every 4 to 6 years. It is suggested to get your cholesterol checked if you have a family history of high cholesterol or if you:
- Have high blood pressure
- Are overweight
A heart-healthy lifestyle approach i.e. habits that keep your heart healthy can lower your cholesterol and can help you prevent having high cholesterol in the first place. You can implement the following changes to maintain a healthy cholesterol level:
- Eat Heart-healthy food: Start eating a low-salt diet and increase the intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Cut on animal fats and use good fats in moderation
- Reduce that extra weight: Your BMI must be maintained. Reduce that extra weight and get in shape
- Exercise Often: Start exercising most days of the week for at least 30 minutes
- Say No-No To Alcohol & Smoking: Drink alcohol in moderation, if you can’t quit. Leave no space for stress to invade and, Quit Smoking immediately.