High Cholesterol – Causes, Symptoms and how to reduce it

Hey, what did your latest blood routine work say? Are your HDL and LDL values within their limits? If not, it is time to get serious. Though high cholesterol often has no symptoms, it can lead to serious health issues. Too much cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death in the United States.

What is Cholesterol?

Firstly, cholesterol does not deserve the bad reputation it often gets. On the contrary, this yellowish fatty substance is essential for the proper functioning of our body. It is waxy in nature and moves throughout our body. Cholesterol is the building block of cell’s outer membranes. It is the principal ingredient in the creation of digestive juice – bile, secretion of sex hormones like estrogen and anndrogren, vitamins like vitD and its fatty sheaths insulates nerves. Cholesterol helps in transportation of fats, providing defense mechanism ,protecting RBC and in maintaining the muscularity of the body. About 70 to 80 % of cholesterol is produced by the liver and the rest comes from food.

Types of Cholesterol

  • LDL (Low-density lipoprotein) –  It is one of the two main lipoproteins and is often known as “the bad cholesterol.” LDL is harmful and is associated with cholesterol deposit in blood. Higher the level of LDL, greater the risk of arterial damage and heart disease. LDL can build up on the walls of your arteries and make them narrower. The fatty deposits form plaque that lines your arteries and may cause blockages. This build-up is called atherosclerosis.
  • HDL (High-density lipoprotein) – It is the other main lipoprotein and is often called “the good cholesterol.” HDL plays a salutary role by helping remove cholesterol from circulation and thereby reduce the risk of heart disease. It’s believed that higher levels of HDL reduce the risk for heart disease.


Hypercholesterolemia, commonly known as high cholesterol, is the  increase in cholesterol and is mainly a digestive problem. Our eating habits are the major contributor to the condition. Consumption of foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fat, unsaturated fat and sugar can increase your blood cholesterol level.

Other lifestyle factors that can contribute to the disease include smoking, drinking and inactivity. Stress is another major contributor to increased cholesterol level. Adrenaline and cortisol are both released under stress . This inturn causes a metabolizing reaction. Adrenal glands of aggressive persons produce more adrenaline than a normal person thereby increasing their chances of heart failures by 600% to 700%.

Effect of Exercises

To reduce the risk of heart disease, it is essential to lower the level of harmful LDL and increase the level of protecting HDL. Regular exercise plays an important role in helping us achieve that. It also promotes circulation and helps in maintaining the blood flow to every part of the body. Aerobic exercise such as jogging, brisk walking, swimming, bicycling and playing games are excellent for reducing cholesterol level. Yoga Asanas are also highly effective as they help in increasing the pre respiratory activity and stimulate sebaceous gland to effectively secrete accumulated or excess cholesterol from the muscle tissue. Asanas like ardhamatsyendrasana ,shalabhasana, padmasana and vajrasana are useful in lowering blood cholesterol by increasing systemic activity .

Proper Diet

Choose your fat wisely

Unsaturated fat and trans fat can increase your LDL level and decrease your HDL level. They are commonly found in processed food, deep fried food, packaged dairy products, hydrogenated oils and fats etc. Instead of these bad fats, try healthier fats, such as lean meat, nuts, and unsaturated oils.

Reduce food with high cholesterol

Cholesterol in its original form is found in foods of animal origin like egg yolk, organ meats etc. Inorder to lower your cholesterol level, you should not be having more than 200mg of dietary cholesterol per day.

Include food with soluble fibre

Foods high in soluble fiber can reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed into the bloodstream. These foods include whole grains, pulses, legumes, cereals, fruits and vegetables.

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables

Including more fruits and vegetables can increase important cholesterol-lowering compounds in your diet. These compounds, called plant stanols or sterols, work like soluble fibre. 

Eat fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids

These fatty acids may not lower your LDL level but will help in increasing your HDL level. They can also protect the heart from blood clots and inflammation and reduce the risk of heart attack. Fish that are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel.

Limit your salt intake

Limiting salt won’t lower your cholesterol, but it can lower the risk of heart diseases by helping to lower the blood pressure.

Lifestyle changes

Avoid Smoking

Tobacco smoke can take a toll on your cholesterol levels as it is known to lower HDL (or “good”) cholesterol, elevate LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol and also cause a rise in triglycerides — the same type of blood fat that can build up as a result of alcohol consumption. It also injures the arteries, making the “bad” LDL cholesterol more likely to stick and cause blockages.

Limit Alcohol

Alcohol, especially when consumed excessively can raise blood pressure over time, and weaken the heart making it unable to pump effectively. In addition, alcohol can raise your triglycerides, which are a type of bad cholesterol in the blood.

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