What is Cholesterol, Causes & Symptoms
We have often heard about cholesterol being the main cause of a heart attack. But, is it as terrifying as it sounds? The fact is that cholesterol in blood is as important as salt in food. It plays an important role when it comes to digesting food. When a person eats a healthy meal, his body is capable of handling excess fat. But when he has no control over his diet, the body fails to handle it, leading to heart diseases.
Good & bad fats
Dietary fat also plays a crucial role in managing this health condition. Most people avoid eating fat as it adds inches to the waistline and causes health problems. But, did you know that all fat is not the same? While bad fats can have a negative impact on health, good fats have many benefits. Also, the body uses fat for energy. In fact, good fats play a major role in helping you manage your moods!
So, how do you identify good and bad fats?
- These are fats that are liquid at room temperature. Good fats are found in vegetable oils like olive, canola and sunflower. Other sources of good fats are walnuts, soybeans, legumes, chia seeds and avocados. You get Omega-3 fatty acids from seafood and flaxseeds.
- Bad fats, on the other hand, are solid at room temperature. They can be found in animal products or foods with a long shelf life. These include meat, eggs, dairy foods like cheese, cream and high-fat milk, fried foods and snacks.
Causes of High Cholesterol
Heard the phrase, ‘My heart leapt with joy when I saw a rainbow?’ Well, your heart indeed is a delicate organ. It leaps with joy when you are happy and it feels heavy as a stone when you are low.
Stress, anger and negative emotions are all risk factors for your heart. In addition, an unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, genetics and smoking are other causes of high cholesterol.
An unhealthy diet
Today, our diets are loaded with unhealthy fatty foods. Fried foods are sure good to taste, but they are filled with bad fats found in red meat, cheese and foods full of preservatives.
Exercise of any kind boosts HDL levels. However, our hectic jobs often make it almost impossible to take out time to go to the gym or even exercise at home! No exercise coupled with an overload of unhealthy foods is surely a recipe for disaster!
Lack of exercise can lead to accumulation of body fat. It slowly pushes us towards serious health disorders like obesity, which raises blood sugar and cholesterol levels. So, people who have BMI of 30 or more are at a greater risk of suffering from high cholesterol.
High cholesterol could also be in your genes! This means, if you have a parent who suffers from this condition or a family history, you too could be at a risk. Other inherited disorders like obesity could simply contribute. Take a 2-minute gene test and find out the lifestyle that best suits you!
Smoking is known to be one of the root causes of cancer, high blood pressure and cholesterol. This occurs because cigarette smoke damages the walls of your blood vessels.
Symptoms are natural warning signs of our body. Almost every disease has its own set of indications. But when it comes to high cholesterol, the symptoms are almost absent or tough to spot. In fact, one the most significant warning signs of high cholesterol is a heart attack. The absence of symptoms makes high cholesterol one of the most dangerous health disorder. In some cases, people who suffer from high cholesterol, may experience occurrence of bumps on their hands, feet or skin and pain while walking.
Symptoms of high cholesterol
Cholesterol is already present in our blood, as it is secreted by the liver to help the body carry out important functions. This means that HDL, as well as LDL cholesterol types, are also present in our system but in safe amounts, and both carry out their respective tasks to keep our body functioning properly.
However, certain factors such as the intake of unhealthy foods or the absence of exercise is enough to cause an imbalance in these cholesterol levels, leading to higher levels of LDL in the blood. Excess levels of LDL cholesterol lead to decreased levels of HDL. Therefore, with no way to push out the excess cholesterol our body begins to deposit it into our arteries. This in turn leads to plaque build-up in the arteries, which restricts the flow of blood and oxygen to vital organs such as the brain and heart.
While high cholesterol may not depict any particular symptoms of its own, symptoms associated with a heart attack may sometimes be indicators of high cholesterol. These symptoms are as follows:
- Chest pain
- Heart attack
- Presence of visceral fat