Blood Cholesterol: What Makes Our Blood Cholesterol High?

Your blood cholesterol level is affected not only by what..

Blood Cholesterol: What Makes Our Blood Cholesterol High?

Your blood cholesterol level is affected not only by what you eat but also by how quickly your body makes LDL-cholesterol and disposes of it.

In fact, your body makes all the cholesterol it needs, and it is not necessary to take in any additional cholesterol from the foods you eat.

People with heart disease or those who are at high risk for developing it typically have too much LDL-cholesterol in their blood.

Many factors help determine whether your LDL-cholesterol level is high or low. The following factors are the most important.

Your blood cholesterol level is affected not only by what you eat but also by how quickly your body makes LDL-cholesterol and disposes of it.

In fact, your body makes all the cholesterol it needs, and it is not necessary to take in any additional cholesterol from the foods you eat.

Patients with heart disease or those who are at high risk for developing it typically have too much LDL-cholesterol in their blood. Many factors help determine whether your LDL-cholesterol level is high or low.

The following factors are the most important.

Heredity

Your genes influence how high your LDL-cholesterol is by affecting how fast LDL is made and removed from the blood.

One specific form of inherited high cholesterol that affects 1 in 500 people is familial hypercholesterolemia, which often leads to early heart disease.

But even if you do not have a specific genetic form of high cholesterol, genes play a role in influencing your LDL-cholesterol level.

What you eat

Two main nutrients in the foods you eat make your LDL-cholesterol level go up: saturated fat. A type of fat found mostly in foods that come from animals; and cholesterol. Which comes only from animal products.

Saturated fat raises your LDL-cholesterol level more than anything else in the diet.

Eating too much saturated fat and cholesterol is the main reason for high levels of cholesterol and a high rate of heart attacks in the United States.

Reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol you eat is a very important step in reducing your blood cholesterol levels.

Weight

Excess weight tends to increase your LDL-cholesterol level. If you are overweight and have a high LDL-cholesterol level, losing weight may help you lower it.

Weight loss also helps to lower triglycerides and raise HDL.

Physical activity/exercise

Regular physical activity may lower LDL-cholesterol and raise HDL-cholesterol levels.

Age and gender

Before menopause, women usually have total cholesterol levels that are lower than those of men the same age.

As women and men get older, their blood cholesterol levels rise until about 60 to 65 years of age.

In women, menopause often causes an increase in their LDL-cholesterol and a decrease in their HDL- cholesterol level. 

And after the age of 50, women often have higher total cholesterol levels than men of the same age.

Alcohol

Alcohol intake increases HDL-cholesterol but does not lower LDL-cholesterol. Doctors don’t know for certain whether alcohol also reduces the risk of heart disease.

Drinking too much alcohol can damage the liver and heart muscle, lead to high blood pressure, and raise triglycerides. Because of the risks, alcoholic beverages should not be used as a way to prevent heart disease.

Stress

Stress over the long term has been shown in several studies to raise blood cholesterol levels. One way that stress may do this is by affecting your habits.

For example, when some people are under stress, they console themselves by eating fatty foods. The saturated fat and cholesterol in these foods contribute to higher levels of blood cholesterol.

Blood Cholesterol

12 Foods That Lower Cholesterol Naturally

If you’re already eating plenty of the following foods that lower cholesterol naturally, keep up the good work!

But if your idea of eating well is to opt for the “buttered popcorn” instead of the “extra buttered popcorn,” consider adding these healthy choices to your diet.

Oats

If you’re looking to lower your cholesterol, the key may be simply changing your morning meal.

Switching up your breakfast to contain two servings of oats can lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by 5.3% in only 6 weeks.

The key to this cholesterol buster is beta-glucan, a substance in oats that absorbs LDL, which your body then excretes.

Red wine

Scientists are giving us yet another reason to drink to our health.

It turns out that high-fiber Tempranillo red grapes, used to make red wine like Rioja, may actually significantly lower cholesterol levels.

A study conducted by the department of metabolism and nutrition at Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain found that when individuals consumed the same grape supplement found in red wine, their LDL levels decreased by 9%.

In addition, those who had high cholesterol going into the study saw a 12% drop in LDL. So go ahead and drink a glass for that cholesterol-lowering benefit.

Salmon & fatty fish

Omega-3 fats are one of the natural health wonders of the world and have been shown to ward off heart disease, dementia, and many other diseases.

Now these fatty acids can add yet another health benefit to their repertoire: lowering cholesterol.

According to research from Loma Linda University. Replacing saturated fats with omega-3s like those found in salmon, sardines, and herring can raise good cholesterol as much as 4%.

Nuts

If you’re looking for a snack food that lowers cholesterol levels, research shows that you should get cracking! In a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

People who noshed on 1.5 oz of whole walnuts 6 days a week for 1 month lowered their total cholesterol by 5.4% and LDL cholesterol by 9.3%. Almonds and cashews are other good options.

However, while nuts are heart healthy, they’re also high in calories, so practice portion control—1.5 oz is about a shot glass and a half. Use a shot glass to measure out your portion so you can see exactly how it looks.

Tea

While tea has become well known for its cancer-fighting antioxidants, it is also a great defense against high LDL cholesterol levels.

According to research conducted with the USDA, black tea has been shown to reduce blood lipids by up to 10% in only 3 weeks.

These findings were concluded in a larger study of how tea may also help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Beans

Beans, beans—they really are good for your heart. Researchers at Arizona State University Polytechnic found that adding ½ cup of beans to soup lowers total cholesterol, including LDL, by up to 8%.

The key to this heart-healthy food is its abundance of fiber. Which has been shown to slow the rate and amount of absorption of cholesterol in certain foods.

Try black, kidney, or pinto beans; each supplies about one-third of your daily fiber needs.

Chocolate

Yes! This powerful antioxidant helps build HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. In a 2007 study published in AJCN. 

Participants who were given cocoa powder had a 24% increase in HDL levels over 12 weeks, compared with a 5% increase in the control group. Remember to choose the dark or bittersweet kind.

Compared to milk chocolate, it has more than 3 times as many antioxidants. Which prevent blood platelets from sticking together and may even keep arteries unclogged.

Margarine

Switching to a margarine with plant sterols, such as Promise activ or Benecol, could help lower cholesterol.

Plant sterols are compounds that reduce cholesterol absorption; a study published in AJCN found that women who had a higher plant sterol–based diet were able to lower total cholesterol by 3.5%.

Garlic

Aside from adding zing to almost any dish, garlic makes the list of foods that lower cholesterol; it’s also been found to prevent blood clots, reduce blood pressure, and protect against infections.

Now research finds that it helps stop artery-clogging plaque at its earliest stage by keeping cholesterol particles from sticking to artery walls.

Try for 2 to 4 fresh cloves a day.

Olive oil

Good news: This common cooking ingredient can help your health. Olive oil is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). 

Which lower LDL cholesterol—and have the welcome side effect of trimming belly fat. Use it to make your own salad dressings, marinate chicken and fish, or roast vegetables.

Spinach

This popular green food contains lots of lutein, the sunshine-yellow pigment found in dark green leafy vegetables and egg yolks.

Lutein already has a reputation for guarding against age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.

Now research suggests that just ½ cup of a lutein-rich food daily also guards against heart attacks by helping artery walls “shrug off” cholesterol invaders that cause clogging.

Look for bags of baby spinach leaves that you can use for salads or pop in the microwave for a quick side dish.

Avocado

Avocados are a great source of heart-healthy MUFAs. Which may actually help raise HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL.

And, more than any other fruit, this delectable food packs cholesterol-smashing beta-sitosterol. A beneficial plant-based fat that reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food.

Since avocados are a bit high in calories and fat (300 calories and 30 g of fat per avocado), use them in moderation.


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Daniel Messer, RNutr, CPT

We eat clean, are always motivated and helpout beginners in need. We sell guides on Cutting, Bulking and Muscle Building. Checkout our website!

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