Does High Cholesterol Cause Heart Problems?
Simply put, the answer is yes. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, and it is the leading cause of death in the United States. But what causes high cholesterol? And what can you do about it? Below, we’ll take a look at the relationship between high cholesterol and heart disease. Then, we’ll share some tips to help you lower your risk and prevent heart disease.
For decades, research has shown that diet and cholesterol play an important role in heart health. Recent research suggests that the link may be more complex than previously thought.
The link between cholesterol and heart disease
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Reliable Sources in the United States explicitly limits dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day; the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Reliable Sources in the United States does not explicitly limit it but nonetheless strongly recommends that dietary cholesterol intake be as low as possible. It cites studies and evidence that suggests that a healthy diet with low dietary cholesterol can reduce the risk of heart disease in adults. An eight-week study published in 2016 identified high LDL as a risk factor for heart disease and noted that dietary fatty acids play an important role in the development of heart disease. The researchers found that small changes in diet (in this case, replacing certain frequently consumed foods with higher-quality fat substitutes) may lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of future heart disease.
Researchers raise the following questions
Recent studies have raised questions about the role of cholesterol in the development of heart disease. A systematic review published in 2016 showed that people over age 60 with high LDL cholesterol live as long or longer than those with low LDL cholesterol. The researchers suggest that guidelines for the prevention of heart disease in older adults should be reevaluated.It should be noted that this revision has several limitations. The research team selected studies from a single database and included only studies published in English. The review did not examine HDL cholesterol levels, other health and lifestyle factors or the use of cholesterol-lowering medications.
Sources Of Dietary Cholesterol
More research is needed on cholesterol, especially dietary cholesterol. However, it is clear that diet plays an important role in heart health and overall health.
Trans Fats and Saturated Fats
Trans fatty acids increase LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association, both of these changes are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. In addition, trans fats have no nutritional value. Partially hydrogenated oils are the main source of trans fats in our diet. They can be found in many types of processed foods. In 2018, a trusted source from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearly determined that PHOs are unsafe for human consumption. They are now being phased out of our food supply. In the meantime, try to avoid foods labeled as AO or trans fats. Saturated fats are another source of LDL cholesterol and should be consumed in moderation. Foods that contain saturated fats include the following categories
- Pastries such as doughnuts, cakes and cookies
- Red meat, fatty meats and highly processed meats
- Ghee, bacon, suet
- Fried foods
- Whole dairy products, such as milk, butter, cheese and cream
These cholesterol-rich foods, as well as processed foods and fast foods, can lead to weight gain and obesity. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems.
These foods can lower LDL and increase HDL, which can help with weight management
- Oats and oat bran
- Barley and other whole grains
- Beans and lentils, such as green beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and purple cabbage
- Nuts such as walnuts, peanuts and almonds.
- Citrus fruits, apples, strawberries and grapes.
- Okra and eggplant
- Fatty fish
- Olive oil
Healthy Cooking Tips
- Use canola, sunflower or safflower seed oil instead of butter, shortening or lard.
- Grill, bake or broil instead of frying.
- Remove the oil and skin from poultry.
- Use a rack to remove fat from grilled meat and poultry.
- Avoid grilling after removing fat.
What Are The Risk Factors For Heart Disease?
High cholesterol in the blood is a risk factor for heart disease. Other risk factors include the following
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes and pre-diabetes
- History of heart disease
- Pre-eclampsia during pregnancy
- Weight gain
- Lack of exercise
- Unhealthy diet
The risk of heart disease increases with age. For women, the risk increases after menopause. With each additional risk factor, your risk of heart disease increases. Some of these factors, such as age and family history, are out of your control. Others, such as diet and exercise, can be controlled by you.
What is the future outlook?
If heart disease is left untreated, it can lead to a variety of complications, including
- Damage to the heart from lack of oxygen
- Arrhythmia of the heart
- Heart failure
You will need to work closely with your doctor to monitor your condition. If you need medicines to control high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, or other problems, take them as directed. Tell your doctor if you develop any new symptoms. In addition to making healthy lifestyle changes, this can help improve your overall outlook.
Tips For Preventing Heart Disease
Here are a few steps you can take to reduce your risk of heart disease
- Watch your weight. Being overweight tends to increase your LDL levels. This can also put a strain on your heart.
- Get some exercise. Exercise can help control your weight and improve your blood cholesterol levels.
- Eat well. Choose a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Nuts, seeds and legumes are also heart-healthy foods. Choose lean meats, skinless poultry and fatty fish over red and processed meats. Choose dairy products that are low in fat. Avoid trans fats altogether. Choose olive oil, canola oil and safflower oil instead of margarine, lard and solid shortening.
- Do not smoke. If you currently smoke, talk to your doctor about a smoking cessation program.
- Get an annual physical exam, especially if you have a family history of heart disease. The sooner you are aware that you are at risk for heart disease, the sooner you can take preventive measures.