What Raises Cholesterol and Why Is That Bad?
What Raises Cholesterol?
We’ve all heard that high cholesterol levels are bad for us, but why? High cholesterol is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease. There are two types of cholesterol— low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is the “bad” cholesterol that we have to worry about. While the body does make some LDL, many lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, also play a role. Here are some factors that raise cholesterol levels.
Saturated or Trans Fats
One of the biggest culprits for high cholesterol is unhealthy fats. Trans fats are severely damaging to our health, which is why many countries have banned them. They increase LDL cholesterol, cause inflammation, and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Although not as bad, saturated fats are also unhealthy. These fats increase levels of LDL and lower HDL. Try to limit your intake of red meat, processed meats, full-fat dairy products, and coconut oil.
Most people don’t consider sugar when they try to lower their cholesterol levels, but it does more damage than you may think. Sugar promotes the production of LDL and lowers levels of HDL. It also increases levels of triglycerides, another type of fat that can cause a buildup of plaque in the arteries and heart disease. Eating lots of sugar can also lead to weight gain, which is another risk factor for high cholesterol.
Obesity is one of the most common risk factors for high cholesterol levels. Exercise not only helps manage weight, but it also increases levels of HDL, the good cholesterol. Aerobic exercises, such as swimming, running, or biking, are excellent for heart health. Try to do them at least 30 minutes a few times each week.
On top of all the other detrimental effects smoking has on our health, it also affects cholesterol levels. Smoking lowers HDL levels (the good cholesterol) and damages artery walls so that the bad cholesterol, LDL, can stick to them more easily. This increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.