Cholesterol has become somewhat of a ‘buzzword’ in recent years and can be found on a wide range of food packaging and medication. As a result, you may be wondering exactly what cholesterol is, why it is wise to avoid having high levels of it in your body and which are the common lifestyle errors that cause high cholesterol. Here we take a look at some of things that you can do and avoid in order to reduce high cholesterol levels.
What is cholesterol?
Before we take a look at the common lifestyle errors that cause high cholesterol let’s take a brief look at what cholesterol is and why having high levels of it in your body is bad. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is found in the body. When present in large quantities in the body it can block blood vessels, and this puts you at greater risk of heart problems and stroke. Lowering the amount of cholesterol in your body can be done through a combination of adapted lifestyle and medication such as those offered by Express Pharmacy.
What common lifestyle errors cause high cholesterol?
Eating fatty food
Cholesterol is found in saturated fats, and food that contain high levels of saturated fat should be avoided, or eaten in moderation. Saturated fat is found mostly in processed foods as these are often laden with fat in order to give them ‘bulk’ and flavour. Full fat dairy products are also a source of saturated fat, and switching to plant and nut-based milk and cheese would be a healthy change to make. If you don’t like the idea of non-dairy based milks and cheeses, then changing to skimmed or semi-skimmed milk will go some way to helping reduce saturated fats. One of the most common places in which saturated fat is found is fried food – think about it, you are literally immersing your food in fat and then heating it. This means that popular takeaway foods are a haven for saturated fat and should not be included in your diet if you are looking to reduce cholesterol levels.
Although the act of smoking itself does not directly increase the levels of cholesterol in your body, it does make the effects of high cholesterol worse. The pollutants that enter the body as a result of smoking make the cholesterol that is already in your blood vessels ‘stickier’ and this means that it is more effective when it comes to clogging your vessels and preventing the natural flow of blood through them.
Your liver breaks alcohol down into cholesterol and sends it out into your body. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is not only bad for your liver, but also for your heart.
Your weight is closely associated with the foods you eat and the alcohol that you drink, so the link between weight and diet are pretty clear to see. However, being overweight also puts more stress on the body and its functions and with cholesterol already blocking blood vessels, this extra work demand on the body can have a significant effect on your overall health.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.