Have you been recently diagnosed with high cholesterol? Well, you are not alone.
Almost 2 in 5 American adults have high cholesterol, making this a common issue, but that does not mean you should take it lightly; instead, it may be time to start taking charge of your health and controlling your weight.
According to studies, suffering from overweight is associated with increased cholesterol levels, and both obesity and high cholesterol are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Read on to explore what you need to know about cholesterol, its link to your weight, and how you could treat it.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy lipid (fat) that moves throughout your body in your blood. The body uses it to create cells, hormones, and vitamins. Cholesterol is absolutely essential to life, but an imbalance can be life-threatening.
To transport cholesterol to and from the body’s cells, the liver makes substances from fat and protein called lipoproteins. These come in two main types: low-density lipoproteins or LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and high-density ones or HDL (“good” cholesterol).
High levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol can accumulate on the walls of your arteries, and this buildup or cholesterol plaque is dangerous. Blood vessels are pipes that the body uses to transport blood throughout the body. Like any pipe, when debris starts forming along the walls, it causes narrowing and decreased (blood) flow which can limit blood flow to vital organs and raise your chance of blood clots, which can trigger a stroke or a heart attack. A blockage in the blood flow to the heart can cause a heart attack; a blockage in the blood flow to the brain, a stroke.
By contrast, HDL cholesterol is usually referred to as good cholesterol, as it carries LDL (bad) cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is broken down and carried out of your system.
Cholesterol comes from two sources: (1) your liver, which creates all of the cholesterol the body needs, and (2) food from animals like meat, poultry, and dairy products. Those same foods are high in saturated and trans fats which cause the liver to make more cholesterol than it otherwise would.
When someone is diagnosed with high cholesterol, it means that there is an imbalance of fats circulating in the bloodstream. High cholesterol is often termed the silent killer because it shows no symptoms, and one can only detect it through a blood test. For this reason, The American Heart Association recommends that all adults aged twenty and above have a cholesterol check every five years
How does obesity raise the odds of high cholesterol?
Although high cholesterol does not exhibit physical symptoms, we know that carrying extra weight affects how your body manages lipoproteins, which can lead to high cholesterol. Having a high number of fat tissues will lead to more free fatty acids entering your liver.
Excess weight also makes you prone to inflammation which can affect the management of the good cholesterol HDL. Research has shown that every ten pounds above your ideal weight can generate an additional ten milligrams of cholesterol each day. Further, lipid levels increase in individuals affected by obesity.
Other factors that contribute to high cholesterol levels are eating too many foods containing high cholesterol, saturated fats and trans fats, in addition to being physically inactive, smoking, genetics, and having other medical conditions such as diabetes.
Weight loss can help lower cholesterol levels.
Research has shown that people who lost five percent of their weight significantly dropped their LDL cholesterol. A loss of about 20 pounds has been shown to reduce LDL by 15 percent, increase HDL and reduce total cholesterol levels.
Weight loss may be achieved through eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains, cutting red meat and processed foods, and increasing physical activity. For some people, medication may be prescribed as well.
Do not hesitate to seek medical guidance to maintain a healthy weight, improve your heart health and lower your cholesterol.
Our team of professionals at Digestive Care Specialists and The Silhouette Clinic will work closely with you to provide you with individualized nutrition counseling, coaching, and guidance. We understand the challenges people face when trying to lose weight and have a team of experts who can assist, whether it be through diet, meeting with a registered dietitian, or medical weight loss.