What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty or lipid molecule naturally produced by the body. It serves essential functions in the body, regulates several hormones, and maintains the cell’s structure.
Based on the transport mechanism, cholesterol can be of two types, HDL (high-density lipoproteins) and LDL(low-density lipoproteins). Additionally, cholesterol stimulates hormone production as well as bile acids, which help indigestion.
1) Why Should I Be Concerned About Cholesterol?
Although cholesterol is quite necessary for the body, excess of it in the blood could manifest in the form of several serious medical conditions.
Above-average cholesterol in the body could clog arteries, impact heart and kidney function, and can cause partial or total vision loss. Therefore it’s imperative to keep your blood cholesterol levels within normal range.
2) Does High Cholesterol Affect Your Eyes?
When we talk about the destructive effects of cholesterol, the heart is often the central topic; however, several other body parts are also equally hit by increased cholesterol levels.
Does high cholesterol affect your eyes? This has a clear and concise answer: yes. If you have increased blood cholesterol levels, your eyes may have to face the brunt of its detrimental impact.
However, the effects may vary from person to person – some may only have whitish rings (Arcus senilis) around the eyes or yellow nodules at the corners, called xanthelasma. For others, the effects could be more severe, like reduced blood flow, vision problems, and reduced eyesight.
Therefore, taking care of your health and being conscious about your diet will not only improve your physical attributes but also keep your sight sharp.
3) Does High Cholesterol Give You Blurred Vision?
Yes. You can go blind if you do not keep your cholesterol levels in check. Scary, right, but unfortunately, it’s true. If your cholesterol levels exceed the standard limit, there’s a high chance that your eyesight may weaken, or you could have blurred vision.
If your blood has too much cholesterol in the body, it starts depositing around the blood vessels restricting the blood flow. A similar phenomenon happens around the eyes too, and once the cholesterol deposits around the blood vessels close to the eyes happen, it could impact the oxygenation of eye tissues. Continued deterioration of eye muscles occurs, which leads to partial or total vision loss.
Similarly, an excess of cholesterol in the blood can affect the retina or cerebral cortex, where much of the visual function happens. If the damage is not checked early, you may lose the ability to distinguish colors. Thus your color perception is severely hit due to higher cholesterol levels in the blood.
Moreover, recent studies were done by Harvard scientists also revealed that high cholesterol also triggers glaucoma. This dangerous eye condition damages the optic nerve and leads to irreversible or permanent vision loss. According to the research conducted, eye pressure increases proportionally to blood cholesterol levels which likely results in glaucoma.
4) Can High Cholesterol Cause Joint Pain?
Pain in joints or in the leg, in most cases, is likely the first sign of cholesterol exceeding the required limit in the body. The joint pain arises because cholesterol tends to deposit in the arteries and clog them.
While it happens around the chest in most cases, which evidently results in cardiovascular diseases, cholesterol deposits can also occur in blood vessels supplying oxygen-rich blood to limbs.
Blood flow is severely restricted, which results in painful leg movements and joint pain. Moreover, reduced blood flow could also manifest as peripheral artery disease, making movement very painful.
Additional research has also concluded that high cholesterol levels result in cholesterol buildup in the cells of the immune system. This unhealthy buildup leads to chronic low-level inflammation causing severe joint pain.
On top of that, individuals with an unfavorable lipid profile are much more likely to experience tendon injuries and higher pain levels associated with musculoskeletal problems in their arms and legs.
5) Does Cholesterol Increase After Covid?
Covid pandemic in recent years has been a medical tragedy of immense proportion. Apart from wreaking havoc on the upper respiratory tract, recent studies have also confirmed several long-term impacts on other organs.
Evidence suggests that coronavirus infections severely impact the lipid profile too, and the alterations lead to a significant decrease in good cholesterol (HDL) and a sharp rise in ( bad cholesterol) LDL.
However, the studies are still in nascent stages, but it indeed points to a definite link between high cholesterol and covid.
6) What Foods Will Help Lower Triglycerides?
There’s an established link between the above appropriate triglyceride levels and cardiovascular problems. Therefore, it’s essential to keep healthy triglyceride levels in the body. Fruits and vegetables hold the key to preventing fat deposits in the arteries and restricting triglycerides to healthy levels.
Here are some of the foods that help lower triglycerides;
Avocado is full of fiber and good fat. The composition of Avocado maintains blood sugar levels and also checks triglycerides in the body. Consequently, you have a more healthy lipid profile and a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases associated with high cholesterol.
Beans and legumes are again rich sources of dietary protein, carbs, and fiber. Fiber is known to lower bad cholesterol and boost good cholesterol. Similarly, carbs, apart from energizing your body, alleviate cholesterol-induced harmful effects and normalize cholesterol levels in the body.
Fish are known to be full of proteins. But fatty or oily fish like salmon also packs a high amount of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids are known to have a beneficial impact on the heart and decrease cholesterol. Besides, it also boosts good HDL, improves lipid profile, and promotes general health.
Another essential food component known to bring cholesterol levels back to normal limits is olive oil. It’s a rich source of antioxidants and good fat, and regular consumption leads to healthy triglyceride levels in the body.
7) Does Stress Raise Cholesterol?
Like many other adverse effects on health, stress also causes higher cholesterol levels in the body. Recent studies have confirmed that increased cholesterol levels directly correlate to higher stress levels. The research revealed that individuals with high-stress levels are likely to have more cholesterol in their bodies.
It’s because stress transmitters stimulate the body to call up more energy. Our body meets the increased energy needs via fatty acids and glucose from the stores. However, to process these extra nutrients, the liver needs to produce more LDL cholesterol. The result is more cholesterol in the blood.
Besides, there is also a link between stress and the body’s ability to break down fat and cholesterol. Incidentally, more stress translates to a lower breakdown of cholesterol and hence results in Hypercholesterolemia.
8) Can One Meal Raise Cholesterol?
Can one meal raise cholesterol? Less likely but possible. It’s a fact that your triglycerides levels could shoot up with a single meal; however, higher cholesterol levels are a progressive phenomenon and results from a continuous lifestyle and food habits.
Even though a single meal may not disturb your HDL and LDL balance, it’s imperative to be aware of what you are putting inside. Continuous consumption of food full of meat and fat like red meat, butter, cream, etc., will undoubtedly cause your cholesterol levels to go wayward and give rise to a plethora of medical conditions.
9) Does Olive Oil Affect Cholesterol?
Olive oil is a superfood often touted as the ultimate solution to check the advancing levels of your blood cholesterol. Most of the claims are likely true, but only when the consumption is well within healthy limits.
First, olive oil is packed with antioxidants. Various compounds in olive oil are known to lower your LDL levels while boosting HDL or good cholesterol.
Second, olive oil also contains ample amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are the healthier fats. It replenishes the body’s supply of healthy fat and thus limits the accumulation of harmful fat in the body.
10) What Medications Are Used to Treat High Cholesterol?
When your cholesterol and triglycerides levels are dangerously high, food and lifestyle changes alone would not be enough to contain its negative impacts and bring back the levels to healthy limits. Fortunately, there are certain drugs readily available on the market which can quickly rebalance your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, a healthy lifestyle with foods that help with bad cholesterol will still be indispensable.
Here are some of the medications used to treat high cholesterol;
Statins are the first line of defense against bad cholesterol. The active ingredients are atorvastatin, simvastatin, and rosuvastatin. Statins inhibit the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase enzyme responsible for the production of cholesterol in the body.
If statins don’t work or the tolerability of statins is low in a particular individual, then statin can be combined with ezetimibe to achieve the desired cholesterol-lowering effect. Ezetimibe inhibits the absorption of cholesterol in the gut and therefore limits its level in the blood.
If even the combination of statin and ezetimibe doesn’t work, the next drug that can be deployed is Bempedoic Acid. It has a statin-like function and could be effective in LDL reduction in the blood.
PCSK 9 inhibitors
There’s another option available for those who could not achieve the desired LDL target values, despite an active LDL lowering treatment regime. It’s called PCSK 9 inhibitor drug and works by inhibiting PCSK9 endogenous enzymes and regulating LDL receptors.
Besides these drugs, there are other numerous treatment options available to lower cholesterol levels. These include fibrates, dietary supplements, etc.
Conclusion – 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Cholesterol!
Cholesterol is a necessary evil. It constitutes healthy bodily function in the normal range, while its excess results in life-threatening medical issues.
Fortunately, in most cases, lifestyle changes and healthy food habits with a balanced diet can reverse the negative impact of bad cholesterol.
However, medical treatments are also available to lower triglyceride and LDL levels. Therefore, if you are concerned about your LDL levels, go for the assessment to determine the precise levels and amend your ways accordingly to nullify any harmful impact bad cholesterol may cause in your body.