Cholesterol is a thick substance that can be found in the blood. While some cholesterol is good—your body actually needs it to build healthy cells—having very high cholesterol (also known as hyperlipidemia or hypercholesterolemia) can have a negative impact on your heart, eventually leading to heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. In some situations this can result in fatty deposits building up in the blood vessels (a condition referred to as atherosclerosis), making it more difficult for blood to flow through the arteries.
And so there’s no denying it — having high cholesterol is a very dangerous situation. The good news is that there are many ways to keep your cholesterol down. But it’s important you understand the causes of high cholesterol before setting out to lower it…
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1. Poor Diet
A diet high in “bad” cholesterol (known clinically as low-density lipoprotein [LDL] cholesterol) can increase your cholesterol levels and lead to heart disease. That’s why it’s important to avoid trans fats, which are rife with LDL cholesterol. Trans fats can be found in a number of unhealthy foods, from fast food burgers to baked goods (e.g., donuts, cake, and tarts).
To combat high cholesterol, try eating loads of whole grains (such as whole wheat breads and pastas) and consuming plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. You should also replace less healthy red meat with heart-healthy types of fish—such as salmon, cod, tuna, and halibut—all of which research says contains omega-3 fatty acids that are known to help maintain heart health.