What causes high cholesterol? How to prevent it?

Cholesterol is a substance that can be found in our blood. It is needed by the body to help build healthy cells. However, high levels of cholesterol in the blood is bad for our health. The cholesterol can adhere, block and then damage the blood vessels. There are a lot of diseases that can be caused by high cholesterol such as stroke, heart disease and also high blood pressure. A person with this condition will show signs of high cholesterol depending on their disease. This includes a headache, chest pain and breathing difficulty. However, bear in mind that a high cholesterol level can only be confirmed with a test. So, what are the causes for this condition? This article will discuss the causes of high cholesterol and the ways to prevent it.

Causes of high cholesterol

The cause can be divided into two categories; modifiable and non-modifiable. Modifiable cause is the cause that can be changed, while non-modifiable cause means a cause that occurs naturally.

Modifiable cause:

  • Poor diet. A diet that is high in saturated and trans fat will increase the cholesterol level. This includes food such as animal products, whole fat dairy products, red meat, baked cookies and crackers.
  • Obesity. Being obese is a risk factor for high cholesterol level. Having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater is considered as obese.
  • Lack of exercise. This is one of the common causes for high cholesterol. Being inactive will obviously do no good to the body. This usually happens because we are too busy with work or simply because we do not have any motivation to exercise.
  • Smoking. Smoking may damage the blood vessel wall, making it vulnerable to fat deposits. Besides that, smoking also will lower the HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or ‘good cholesterol’ level.
  • Heavy alcohol drinker. Alcohol is known to help increase the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or ‘bad cholesterol’ level. Plus. It also will increase triglyceride level, another form of cholesterol.
  • Associated disease. Some diseases such as diabetes can also damage the lining of our blood vessel wall. This, in turn, will contribute to more fatty deposits.

Modifiable cause:

  • Genetics. Some family were born with high Body Mass Index (BMI) which make them obese.
  • Age. As we grow older, our organs will gradually lose its function. This will make it harder for the system to remove excessive cholesterol from our body.

How to prevent high cholesterol?

  • Eat healthy foods. It is very important to control your diet. You must avoid any food that is rich in cholesterol such as junk food, highly processed food and also sweetened food. Instead, opt for healthier foods like vegetables and fruits. Make sure you refer to a food pyramid for a well-balanced diet.
  • Exercise regularly. Diet alone is not enough. Exercise can help you to remain healthy and be in good shape. Any type of exercise will do. Jogging, cycling, swimming or any kind of sports will be a good choice. Aims to exercise for 30 minutes, five times a week or vigorous exercise for 20 minutes, three times a week if your schedule is too hectic.
  • Quit smoking. You can try to stop smoking gradually every day. Nowadays, there are a lot of nicotine-replacement therapies that you can choose from. If you find it is very hard to do, you can visit your doctor for their advice and help.
  • Stop drinking alcohol. Try cutting down your alcohol intake. If you can stop drinking entirely, then that will be a better choice. You will find yourself in good shape if you can reduce or stop this bad habit.