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Cholesterol and Heart Disease: The Connection you should Know

Written by Nikita · Updated 23/09/2021

Cholesterol and Heart Disease: The Connection you should Know

Speak of the word cholesterol and all you will hear is negativity. But, contrary to the popular belief, cholesterol is a good thing, it’s the levels that you have to watch out for. The relationship between cholesterol and heart disease is something you should be aware of, to maintain the levels, rather than get rid of it entirely. Cholesterol is known to insulate your nerves, produce hormones, and build new cells. This organic molecule is created by the liver. It can also be acquired externally via animal-based food such as meat, eggs, milk, etc. While cholesterol in balanced quantities is good for the body, high level of cholesterol can be a risk factor for too many issues, one of which is cardiovascular conditions. Cholesterol and heart disease are inextricably linked.

The question remains, is cholesterol really a problem for people with heart issues? Let’s find out.

Cholesterol and heart disease: The high-risk problem

As mentioned, cholesterol in itself is beneficial for the body. However, high levels of cholesterol are dangerous for the body and can cause numerous issues. Here are the risk factors that trigger a high level of cholesterol and consequently heart diseases:

  • No workout
  • Obesity
  • Poor diet which includes trans and saturated fats and high-cholesterol foods such as red meat and full-fat dairy products
  • Age is also a factor; the more your age, the higher the risk
  • Smoking is known to damage your nasal vessels, thus making it an easy space for the accumulation of cholesterol

As a result of the aforementioned, the relationship between cholesterol and heart disease starts turning clearer with time. Some of the complications are:

  • Stroke which occurs when a blood clot blocks the supply of oxygen to the brain
  • Heart attack, which happens when a blockage stops the supply of oxygen to the heart
  • Angina, i.e. chest pains due to damaged coronary arteries

Cholesterol and heart disease: Which is the good cholesterol?

Do you what are lipoproteins? These are the proteins on which the cholesterol travels through the blood. There are two types of lipoproteins:

HDL or High-density Lipoprotein, the ‘Good’ Cholesterol

This one is known to absorb cholesterol and transfer it to the liver, which eventually flushes it out of the body. Low levels of HDL can be tackled by talking to your doctor about the lifestyle changes involved.

LDL or Low-density Lipoprotein, the ‘Bad’ Cholesterol

This is the bad guy who forms the majority of cholesterol that is found in your body. A high level of LDL is usually tackled by lifestyle changes and medicines.

The presence of good cholesterol poses the question: Is cholesterol really a problem? Well, the answer is yes. That’s because, despite the good cholesterol, the bad one exists too.

Cholesterol and heart disease: What are the benefits of good cholesterol?

Cholesterol and heart disease are linked not only in a negative manner but also in a good way. The High-density Lipoprotein or the ‘Good’ cholesterol provides numerous health benefits to the system, including the heart.

  • High-density Lipoprotein actually removes the ‘bad’ cholesterol or Low-density Lipoprotein from the body.
  • It maintains the inner walls of the blood vessels, thus preventing any damage that can cause issues like stroke and heart attack.
  • HDL helps in recycling LDL by sending it back to the liver.

Thus, you can see that the relationship between cholesterol and heart disease is two-fold, majorly because of the two types of cholesterol that exist. As much as we focus on lowering the levels of the ‘bad’ cholesterol, as much focus should be on increasing and maintaining the levels of the ‘good’ cholesterol.

Read More : Complications of Hypertension that you should Know Now!

Cholesterol and heart disease: How to keep HDL high and LDL low?

The best way to ensure that the relationship between cholesterol and heart disease remains healthy is to maintain a high level of HDL and a low level of LDL. This can be done by bringing about a few healthy lifestyle changes.

  • Decrease the level of alcohol consumption. Limit it to two drinks per day. This will help to bring down the triglyceride levels.
  • Cut down on your smoking. If possible, with external help and therapy, quit it altogether. Smoking enables LDL cholesterol to damage the arteries. This, in turn, can increase the chances of stroke.
  • If you are suffering from diabetes, it’s imperative that you control your blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels result in atherosclerosis, which is a condition wherein arteries get blocked, thereby leading to stroke and heart attack.
  • Regular exercise and workout is the best way to reduce your ‘bad’ cholesterol and increase the ‘good’ one. Try a brisk walk for at least 30 minutes daily.
  • Obesity is another reason which can increase your blood sugar levels and subsequently cause heart attacks. Lose the extra fat around your belly.
  • In most cases, bringing about these lifestyle changes is easy enough and cholesterol levels are controlled. However, in some cases, external help may be required. The relationship between cholesterol and heart disease can be dependent on your genetic factors as well. If you are doing everything in your ability to keep it under check and are still failing, that may be one of the causes. In that case, connect with your doctor and take medication as prescribed.

    Read More : Complications of Hypertension that you should Know Now!

    Cholesterol and heart disease: The food connect

    You are what you eat. The age-old adage has been created to guilt us into eating healthy. After all, our body derives energy from what we consume. The better food we eat, the better are the chances of us having a healthy system.

    The relationship between cholesterol and heart disease is dependent on the food you eat as well. Following are some of the dietary tips that you can follow to avoid cholesterol.

    • Consume low-fat milk and yoghurt. If you are not a dairy person but need the nutrients nevertheless, have soya drinks with the ‘added calcium’ factor.
    • Limit your consumption of fatty meats such as salami and sausages. Instead, choose lean meats such as lean chicken or turkey breast.
    • Replace the butter in your diet with margarine and the likes.
    • Include a lot of fibre in your diet with legumes, seeds, and nuts.
    • Fill your diet with a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.
    • Start consuming whole grains.
    • Limit your consumption of ice cream and cheese. Twice a week should be more than enough.
    • Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to avoid eggs and seafood entirely. You can probably be cautious with your egg yolk intake and avoid fried and buttered seafood. In fact, fatty fish like tuna, salmon, mackerel are known for their healthy fats. 
    • Start including plant foods such as canola seeds, sunflower seeds, and the likes in your diet. Plant sterols are known to bring down cholesterol levels.

    Overall, if you wish to maintain a lifestyle that doesn’t relate cholesterol and heart disease, the best way would be to regulate your food habits. Limit saturated fats, start working out, and in case you are suffering from high blood sugar, be wary of that. Also, do not forget to visit your doctor regularly for thorough checkups.

    The relationship between cholesterol and heart disease is a complicated one. However, all should be good if you follow the aforementioned tips and tricks.

    Did we miss any? Are there any other tips that you know? Do let us know in the comments below.



    Written by Nikita · Updated 23/09/2021

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