Cholesterol, fat in your blood, is needed by the body for a variety of functions; however, too much cholesterol in the blood can cause buildup to occur in the arteries, causing hardening of the arteries according to WebMD. There are a number of things that can affect your cholesterol levels, including diet, exercise and heredity.
Types of Cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol. One type is LDL, or low density lipoproteins, also known as bad cholesterol. The other type is HDL, or high density lipoproteins, which is also known as good cholesterol. LDL cholesterol sticks to your arteries and causes a variety of cardiovascular issues, including atherosclerosis, which is hardening of the arteries. Unlike LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol is used by the body.
Saturated fats increase cholesterol levels. Foods, such as eggs, dairy products, including cheese, butter and milk, beef, pork, shortening and margarine contain saturated fat. Additionally, packaged foods and snacks are often filled with saturated fats.
Making dietary modifications can lower your cholesterol by as much as 30 percent. According to Health Line’s website, eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables can help lower your cholesterol levels naturally. Limit foods rich in sugars and sodium, and eat heart healthy fats, such as olive oil, fish oil and avocados to increase the body’s HDL which can help reduce bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
Those with a body index higher than 30 tend to have lower levels of good cholesterol and higher levels of bad cholesterol. Research has shown that for every 2 pounds that an obese person loses, their good cholesterol rises by as much as 0.35 milligrams. Additionally, some research has shown what you eat can affect the cholesterol lowering ability of the body. For best results, eat a diet high in plant based protein.
Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle often experience higher LDL cholesterol levels. Increasing your activity levels and getting at least 150 minutes of exercise each week can improve your cholesterol. Studies have shown that vigorous exercise, such as aerobics or running can boost HDL cholesterol.
Although you can do nothing about your heredity, knowing the health history of your family members can help protect your health. High cholesterol can be hereditary. By knowing and understanding your family’s health history, you can better protect yourself should from cardiovascular issues associated with high cholesterol levels.
Cigarette smoking constricts your arteries and veins, which increase the likelihood of plaque buildup. Additionally, smoking has been shown to lower HDL levels in the blood. If you smoke, there are many reasons to quit, including high cholesterol and other cardiovascular problems.
Your age plays a role in cholesterol levels. After the age of 20, cholesterol levels begin to increase. If you are male and over the age of 45 or female and over the age of 55, you are at an increased risk of developing high cholesterol.
Gender plays a role in cholesterol levels. This is because hormones can affect HDL levels. In fact, in men, cholesterol levels rise from age 20 to around age 50 before leveling off. The hormone estrogen helps raise HDL cholesterol. For this reason, cholesterol levels often remain low until after menopause. Then, their levels rise to the level of most men.
What you eat, how much you exercise, your age, gender and heredity all play a part in your cholesterol levels. Although you cannot control your heredity, gender or age, there are many things you can do to help lower your cholesterol naturally. These include stopping smoking, eating a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity.