The “National Day to Combat Cholesterol” is remembered on August 8, date created with the aim of raising awareness of the risks of living with high cholesterol levels – which includes heart disease and stroke.
What is cholesterol and where does it come from?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that resembles fat. and it’s not essentially “bad” because the body needs it to build cells, produce vitamins and other hormones. However, it becomes harmful when it appears in excess.
He comes from two different sources. The main one is the liver, responsible for producing all the amount needed by the body. The rest of the cholesterol comes from foods, such as fatty meats, dairy products and, above all, from ultra-processed foods, rich in saturated and trans fats, which induce the liver to make more cholesterol.
The two types of cholesterol are: LDL and HDL. Large amounts of LDL or an insufficient portion of HDL raises the chances of a slow buildup in the artery walls. Cholesterol can bind with other substances to form a thick, hard deposit inside the arteries, causing them to narrow and decrease flexibility (a condition known as atherosclerosis). If a blood clot forms and blocks one of these narrow arteries, can result in heart attack or stroke.
High cholesterol is one of the main controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Also, if the person has other risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, or diabetes, the chances increase.
Why does he exist?
The body naturally produces all the LDL cholesterol it needs. Although, an unhealthy lifestyle causes the body to manufacture this substance in much greater quantities. Behaviors that can negatively affect cholesterol levels include:
Heredity can also influence. Some people inherit genes that cause them to have a high production of cholesterol, a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH).
4 ways to fight bad cholesterol
According to an article by American Heart Association (AHA), between the main lifestyle changes that help lower cholesterol levels are:
1. Follow a healthy diet
From a dietary point of view, the best way to lower cholesterol is reduce your intake of saturated fat and trans fat. THE American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to less than 6% of daily calories, as well as minimizing the amount of trans fat.
Reducing these fats means limiting the consumption of red meat and dairy products made with whole milk, but mainly industrialized, processed and ultra-processed foods. In addition, it is also necessary to reduce the frying. The ideal is to have a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, nuts and vegetable oils, also limiting sweetened foods and drinks.
A sedentary lifestyle lowers HDL cholesterol, which means there is less of this “good” type substance to remove the “bad” from the arteries. do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per weeksuch as walking, swimming or cycling is enough to lower both cholesterol and high blood pressure.
3. Quit smoking
Smoking conventional or e-cigarettes also lowers HDL cholesterol. Also, if a person has high levels and also smokes, the risk of coronary heart disease increases even further.By quitting smoking it is possible to reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL levels.
4. If necessary, lose weight
Being overweight or obese tends to increase “bad” cholesterol and decrease “good”. According to American Heart Associationa weight loss of only 5% to 10% can help improve levels of this substance.