High cholesterol – what is it?
When you have high cholesterol, it means you have excess cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream. This isn't a disease in itself, but it may lead to serious health problems, including peripheral vascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
What causes high cholesterol?
The three main causes of high cholesterol that you can't control are your:
There are people that due to genetics or family history, have high cholesterol even though they're young in their 20's for example.
If your parents, grandparents, brothers, or sisters have high cholesterol, you and your children may be at risk. All family members should consider being tested.
Women have a lower rate of high cholesterol, since before menopause they have lower cholesterol levels than men of the same age. However, as the women get older, their blood cholesterol levels rise until about 60 to 65 years old. After the age of 50, women often (but not always) have higher total cholesterol levels than men of the same age.
There are four secondary causes of high cholesterol, which with some discipline you can avoid.
How is high cholesterol diagnosed?
The only way to know whether you have high cholesterol is to have a simple blood test. Experts recommend that healthy adults have the test at least every five years. You may need to be tested more often, depending on your age and other factors.
How lifestyle changes help lower cholesterol?
Your lifestyle -- what you eat and drink, how much you exercise, and habits such as smoking -- can contribute directly to high cholesterol and heart disease. Conversely, positive lifestyle changes can help lower your cholesterol.
Talk to your doctor about what steps you can take to lower your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease. He or she may recommend:
Eating healthy can lower your cholesterol, help you lose weight and lower your risk of developing heart disease. In fact, research has shown that lowering the cholesterol and saturated fat in your diet can help lower your total blood cholesterol and LDL levels up to 15% (amount varies). The best way to determine the cholesterol and fat content of the food you eat is to read food labels.
Your physician or a registered dietitian can also help you choose the best foods to eat. One's diet needs to be higher in fruits and vegetables (5 servings per day) and higher in fiber (bread, cereals, fruits and vegetables). Consider replacing butter with olive oil. Eat fatty fish twice per week (salmon, mackerel).
According to the American Heart Association® Aerobic exercise can help you control your cholesterol, as well as lower your blood pressure and increase your physical fitness, energy, and self-esteem. It can also keep the weight off and increase HDL. Each person's fitness needs are different. Your needs will depend on your age, current health and health goals, so be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Reducing and controlling stress is important for good health, but especially important for people with high cholesterol and heart disease. When under stress for long periods of time, the body reacts by constricting blood vessels, making circulation more difficult. Healthy ways to reduce stress include relaxation exercises, meditation, time management and a flexible attitude. If you feel stressed, try to figure out why and make changes where you can.
Dietary Supplements that help lower cholesterol
Squalene Health Benefits of Squalene include:
Omega-3 fatty acids are a form of polyunsaturated fats, one of four basic types of fat that the body derives from food. (Cholesterol, saturated fat, and monounsaturated fat are the others.) All polyunsaturated fats, including the omega-3s, are increasingly recognized as important to human health.
Scientists made one of the first associations between omega-3s and human health while studying the Inuit (Eskimo) people of Greenland in the 1970s. As a group, the Inuit suffered far less from certain diseases (coronary heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus, psoriasis) than their European counterparts. Yet their diet was very high in fat from eating whale, seal, and salmon. Eventually researchers realized that these foods were all rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which provided real disease-countering benefits.
In particular, omega-3s in fish oil or other forms may help to:
Improve heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to play a part in keeping cholesterol levels low, stabilizing irregular heart beat (arrhythmia), and reducing blood pressure. Researchers now believe that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one of the omega-3s, is particularly beneficial for protecting against heart and vessel disease, and for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels. An excellent source of ALA is flaxseed oil, sold as both a liquid oil and a semisolid margarine-like spread.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also natural blood thinners, reducing the "stickiness" of blood cells (called platelet aggregation), which can lead to such complications as blood clots and stroke.
Reduce hypertension. Studies of large groups of people have found that the more omega-3 fatty acids people consume, the lower their overall blood pressure level is. This was the case with the Greenland Eskimos who ate a lot of oily, cold-water fish, for example.
Krill Oil is being studied as a natural remedy for high cholesterol. In one study, 120 people were given krill oil, fish oil or a placebo. Krill oil reduced LDL (commonly referred to as "bad") cholesterol by 34% and increased HDL ("good") cholesterol by 43.5% compared to the placebo. In comparison, fish oil reduced LDL cholesterol by 4.6% and increased HDL cholesterol by 4.2%. Krill also lowered triglycerides.
Bee Propolis may also helps lower blood lipid and cholesterol levels as well as lower blood pressure. Some suggest that propolis improves energy and endurance in athletes.
Garlic oil has benefits for the immune system, when suffering from infections and colds, for heart disease and blood pressure regulation.