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Understanding the different types of high cholesterol

17 Jun 2024

Often, people consider cholesterol a culprit for issues related to the heart. But that’s not entirely correct. Cholesterol helps in building cells, producing hormones and performing other functions. But the problem arises when the cholesterol levels are out of balance. In this piece, we will discuss the types of high cholesterol, the diet required for them and the risks that come with it. Let’s begin, shall we?

What is Hypercholesterolemia?

Hypercholesterolemia is when you have high cholesterol levels in your bloodstream. It is identified when there are increased levels of lipids in your blood, majorly called cholesterol and triglycerides. Out of the several types of hypercholesterolemia, familial hypercholesterolemia comes under a genetic disorder which may unexpectedly increase cholesterol levels from a very young age.

What is High LDL Cholesterol?

LDL or Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is also known as bad cholesterol. The main reason behind this is, that high LDL levels can develop a plaque in your body that narrows down your arteries. Naturally, it becomes difficult for the blood to flow through, leading to heart-related problems stroke or a heart attack. 

What are the causes of High LDL Cholesterol?

  • Genetics: Familial hypercholesterolemia can sometimes be responsible.
  • Poor diet: Consuming saturated and trans fats.
  •  Lack of Exercise: Not being as physically active as your body needs.
  • Smoking: Smoking harms the walls of your blood vessels, making it easier for LDL cholesterol to accumulate and develop into plaques.
  • Obesity: Having excessive weight.

What is High HDL Cholesterol?

HDL or High-density lipoprotein cholesterol is also known as good cholesterol as it helps eliminate LDL cholesterol from your blood. High levels of HDL can protect you against heart diseases but an extremely high level of HDL can bring up risks as well.

What are the causes of High HDL Cholesterol?

  • Genetics: Having genetically high levels of HDL.
  • Exercise: Performing physical exercise daily can boost HDL.
  • Healthy Diet: Consuming foods with healthy fats.

Focusing on a High Cholesterol Diet

Your diet is one of the major factors that can help determine the management of your cholesterol levels. Let’s understand what foods you should consume and what food you should avoid having in a High cholesterol diet

Foods to add to your diet: 

  • Whole grains – Some soluble fibre helps lower LDL levels. 
  • Healthy fats – some healthy fats have omega-3 fatty acids which increase HDL. 
  • Fruits and veggies – They have high fibre and low calories that lower your LDL.
  • Legumes – Plant-based proteins are great for your health.

Foods to remove from your diet:

  • Cholesterol-rich foods – though dietary cholesterol has the least to do with blood cholesterol, it is best compared to fats, it’s still recommended to avoid eating high-cholesterol foods.
  • Fats
    • Trans fats – Some sources are baked and fried food dishes. 
    • Saturated fats – Dairy products like butter, chees etc are the main source.

Habits to Inculcate for a High Cholesterol Diet

  • Have homemade food as frequently as possible, that way you get to control what ingredients you use. 
  • Be careful and read the labels for everything, you may come across hidden fats and sugars.
  • Be mindful of what you eat and eat it in moderation.

What are the risks of High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol levels, especially high LDL cholesterol can have quite some serious risks on your health. Let’s dig deeper:

  • Stroke 

    High cholesterol tends to form blood clots in your arteries. This blocks the flow of blood to your brain causing a stroke. Strokes can be discomforting and at times also lead to death.

  • Heart Diseases

    Heart diseases can occur when plaque develops in your arteries, bringing down the blood flow to your heart. This leads to chest pain and a higher chance of a heart attack.

  • High Blood Pressure

    Blocked or narrowed arteries result in more work for your heart cause it has to pump the blood harder so it reaches all of your body. This leads to increased blood pressure putting a strain on your cardiac system.

  • Type 2 Diabetes

    Whenever experiencing high cholesterol, there are also metabolic disorders coexisting. High cholesterol levels can give birth to complications that can lead to diabetes or similar conditions.

  • Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
    This happens when the plaque develops in the arteries that deliver blood to your legs. Resultingly, you may have trouble walking and have other severe complications.

Managing High Cholesterol Risks

  • The first and foremost step is to have a healthy lifestyle with a good diet, physical exercise, weight management and more that help reduce your risks.
  • Get regularly checked to avoid any potential problems
  • Take medications as prescribed by your doctor. Sometimes, lifestyle modification alone cannot do all the work. Some medications may be essential to control cholesterol levels.

Before you begin filing your heart, understanding it is more important. We hope you got a good read on the different types of high cholesterol and how you can tackle them. Keep you focused on , a life that is active and . This way, your risks may significantly diminish and a healthy life may welcome you soon.

About the Author

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Devina Aswal
MBBS, DDM, FCR, CIC

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