High cholesterol levels contribute to heart disease

According to the World Health Organization, cholesterol is the cause for over 50% of all heart attacks. Heart disease is the most fatal disease in the US with 50% of men and 33% of women at risk of developing heart disease during their lifetime. Optimizing cholesterol levels will also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

High cholesterol levels may show no symptoms. It is therefore very important to get cholesterol levels checked. Cholesterol is composed of LDL, HDL and triglycerides. Until recently LDL was considered to be a "bad" cholesterol and the goal of cholesterol medications was to lower LDL and triglycerides - another fat substance found in the blood. However recent studies have shown that LDL helps to gain muscle mass. In fact LDL has many forms and not all LDL is bad. LDL, HDL and triglycerides are all needed by the body. The key is to maintain optimum levels.

High cholesterol levels can lead to plaque build-up in arteries clogging them and preventing normal blood flow. If plaque builds up in the coronary arteries it will reduce blood supply to the heart which can lead to angina. Plaque can also break away and form clots. These are highly dangerous as they can get lodged in the arteries or even the brain.

The best way to maintain optimum cholesterol levels is by eating fewer carbohydrates, fewer processed foods, losing weight and exercising daily.

According to research by Dr. Ronald M. Krauss, M.D., director of the department of atherosclerosis research at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute as well as other scientists "eating natural foods such as full fat cheese and butter are not as likely to increase heart-disease risk as eating 'low-fat' frozen dinners containing corn-derived additives along with bread rolls." Dr. Krauss is now helping to set up the new cholesterol recommendations from the NIH's National Cholesterol Education Program

If you have high cholesterol levels take steps now to lower them. By making changes in diet and lifestyle, you can easily avoid the risk of heart disease.

  • Aim to incorporate vegetables as much as possible into your diet.
  • Avoid processed and fried foods
  • Lose weight
  • Reduce intake of carbohydrates especially from refined, processed foods
  • Reduce or quit alcoholic beverages as these damage the liver that processes cholesterol
  • Quit smoking
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    References:
    National Heart Lung and Blood Institute
    Center for Medical Consumers article by Dr. Paul Rosch, MD and Dr. Gravelins
    Paul Scott. Men'sHealth
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