05 April 2017
High Cholesterol - Causes & Myths
SEVEN CAUSES OF HIGH CHOLESTEROL
High cholesterol is a very common problem in the world, including Indonesia. The symptoms of high cholesterol include headaches in the back of the head, stiffness in the neck and shoulders, as well as a puncturing chest pain on your left side. However, sometimes a person may not have any specific symptoms. High cholesterol shouldn’t be underestimated because it can lead to narrowing of the arteries which raises the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and strokes.
High cholesterol refers to an elevated level of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, LDL) which comes from a variety of food sources and also can be hereditary. The most common causes of high cholesterol are:
- Dietary habits
Eating too much saturated fat can cause high cholesterol. Saturated fat is usually found in foods which come from animals, such as beef and lamb. Butter, cheese, stick margarine, vegetable shortening, and most cookies, crackers, chips, and other snacks also contain this unhealthy fat.
Being overweight may increase triglycerides (main constituents of natural fats and oil) and decrease HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or good cholesterol.
- Activity level
Lack of physical activity may increase LDL, or bad cholesterol, and decrease HDL, or good cholesterol.
- Age and gender
Cholesterol levels naturally begin to rise after the age of 20. Cholesterol levels in men generally level off after the age of 50, while cholesterol levels in women stay fairly low until menopause. After that, their levels rise to about the same level as men.
- Family history
If family members have or had high cholesterol you are more likely to have it.
- Your overall health
Having certain diseases, such as diabetes or hypothyroidism, may cause high cholesterol.
Come on, you already knew this one! Smoking lowers your good cholesterol levels. And it can kill you. More reasons to quit.
MYTHS ABOUT CHOLESTEROL
Are your cholesterol levels already too high or are you worried they will be? There are some common myths about cholesterol that you should be aware of.
- Eggs are evil
For years, people have been warned about the cholesterol in eggs, and whilst it is true that they contain a high level, what has been discovered in recent years is that dietary cholesterol has very little effect on blood cholesterol levels. In fact, it’s been shown that if you eat small amounts of dietary cholesterol your body will reduce the production of its own cholesterol. Eggs are often categorized as a superfood nowadays thanks to their high protein, vitamin, mineral, and healthy fat content. Just don’t eat too many as they do also contain a small amount of saturated fat.
- Cholesterol is always a bad thing
When most people hear the word cholesterol they automatically think it is only bad. However, what most people don’t realize is that cholesterol is essential for various bodily processes, from insulating nerve cells in the brain to providing structure for cell membranes. The problem only comes when too much bad cholesterol (LDL) is in your blood which causes fatty material to build up inside your artery walls.
- Kids can't have high cholesterol
High cholesterol has always been linked to adults, but the truth is, children who are overweight may have high levels of cholesterol. Kids who have hypertension or a family history of heart disease are also at risk for high cholesterol. The American Academy of Paediatrics guidelines suggests that children with high cholesterol should follow a diet that restricts saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. They also recommend consuming whole foods that are high in fiber and doing more exercise.