There are several controllable as well as uncontrollable factors that result in a rise in cholesterol levels. The following are factors that are controllable:
– Look what you are eating: Americans are known for their high cholesterol diet since the majority of foods that they consume come from animal sources like egg yolks, meat and cheese. These foods are high in saturated fat that increases LDL levels. Dairy products, chocolate, commercially baked cookies and crackers and deep fried and processed foods are also high in saturated fats.
– When hydrogen is added to vegetable oil in order to harden it, trans fats are formed. Fried and processed foods are rich in these fats and one of the prime high cholesterol causes.
– How much do you exercise? Life without any physical exercise can lead to weight gain, which in turn increases LDL and total cholesterol as well as lowers HDL.
– How much do you weigh? A body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater puts you at risk of high cholesterol and being overweight is one of the high cholesterol causes.
Factors that are beyond one’s control include:
– Genetic factors: one of the high cholesterol causes that are uncontrollable is developing a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia that may exist where high cholesterol levels run in families and may be present at birth. This usually causes a heart attack at an early age.
– Age and sex: In America, more women have high cholesterol than men. However, after the age of 55, women usually have higher LDL levels than men.
What are the high cholesterol foods to avoid?
The basic truth about lowering cholesterol levels is that one needs to make healthy food choices. This essentially means choosing healthy fats, avoiding foods high in saturated fats and saying no to foods that contain trans fats. There is one point in this regard that you must be clear about: the calorie content of fat foods, be it high or low is not linked to any disease condition. It is basically the type of fat that is consumed that matters.
Some tips on what to avoid and what to eat:
– Choose healthy unsaturated fats. For example olive, canola, and other plant-based oils are healthier cooking medium.
– Completely do away with trans fats. To do this, read label information of packaged and processed foods. Ensure that they do not contain partially hydrogenated oils. Stay away from fried foods, biscuits, and other baked goods unless the label declares that they are free from trans fats.
– Omega-3 fatty acids are good for the heart. Make sure that you have fish like salmon and tuna regularly. Walnuts are also a good source of this nutrient.
– Of all the high cholesterol causes, consumption of foods rich in saturated fats is at the top. Thus, do away with red meat, cheese, milk, and ice cream. Eating small amounts of lean cuts make better sense. Similarly, low-fat milk is better than whole milk.