Regardless of your age, cholesterol is something you should definitely pay attention to. If you’re new to the thought of having problems with your cholesterol or are currently dealing with it, having a firm grasp on the topic is crucial. Let’s discuss managing cholesterol.
Unfortunately, there are a number of myths out there that can lure you into a false sense of security, but don’t let them fool you. Having high cholesterol can happen to anyone, so it’s important to know thy enemy before it causes lasting damage.
To help you get a better understanding of what it is, how to manage it, and bust common myths, let’s take a closer look.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a natural substance that is generated by your liver to enable the proper functioning of your body. This wax-like, fatty substance is important for the creation of some essential hormones, vitamin D, building cell membranes, and producing bile acids necessary for digestion.
While it’s an important component that is generated by your body naturally, it can also be found in foods like meat, full-fat dairy, and any other foods derived from animals.
Debunking 4 Common Cholesterol Myths
Myth #1: You don’t need to worry about managing cholesterol levels if you’re young.
One of the most common myths surrounding managing cholesterol is that it only affects people who are 40 years of age or older. However, this is not true. The fact is that you can have high levels of cholesterol at any age.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends checking the cholesterol levels of kids and young adults between the ages 9 and 11, and between ages 17 and 21. They also recommend checking cholesterol levels once every four to five years after the age of 20.
Myth #2: Women don’t have to worry about managing cholesterol levels.
While men may be affected by high cholesterol earlier than women, some factors can cause more severe damage to women. Conditions such as menopause, especially early-onset menopause, can severely impact women’s levels of cholesterol.
Myth #3: High levels of cholesterol only affects the heart.
Since cholesterol circulates through your entire system in your bloodstream, it can affect more than your heart. Heart disease is the most commonly known effect of high cholesterol.
However, it can also narrow the vessels leading to the kidneys or brain, causing kidney disease or a stroke. It could also travel down to your legs and cause peripheral artery disease.
Myth #4: You won’t have high cholesterol if you exercise regularly and eat healthy.
It’s important to maintain a healthy diet and get regular exercise to keep managing cholesterol in check. However, those are not the only two factors that affect the levels of cholesterol in your system.
Aging, obesity, and other diseases, such as diabetes, also have an impact. Some children might even be born with high cholesterol that they get from their parents.
Heart disease is the most commonly known effect of high cholesterol.
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Good vs. Bad Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a natural substance that is not harmful by itself. However, it’s carried across your body by substances known as lipoproteins. These proteins are of two types: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
- Bad cholesterol (LDL): This is harmful to your system and builds up in your arteries over time, leading to diseases.
- Good cholesterol (HDL): This carries the cholesterol back to your liver which then flushes it out of your system. Having higher levels of HDL can be beneficial for you and lower your risk of heart disease or stroke.
For example, foods like butter, cheese, and meat that are high in saturated and trans fats increase the levels of LDL in your system.
Foods that do not contain saturated or trans fats and are high in fiber, such as oats and beans, promote HDL levels and are healthier for you.
Why High Cholesterol Is Bad for You
High levels of LDL builds up in your arteries and vessels and hardens and narrows them over time. Hardened and narrowed arteries don’t allow blood to flow from and back to your heart. It can lead to chest pains (angina) or a heart attack. It also affects the brain and can lead to stroke.
Having high levels of cholesterol can also add to other lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, and make them worse. To prevent these diseases and lead a healthy life, it’s extremely important for you to be managing cholesterol levels.
The first step to effectively manage cholesterol is to consult your physician and get your levels checked. They can help you create a game plan that’s specifically for you to manage your cholesterol.
Other steps you can take are:
- Quit any type of tobacco
- Eat a plant-based diet and reduce fatty foods
- Lose weight if you’re overweight or obese
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Don’t avoid medication
Managing cholesterol is an important aspect of staying healthy and can have long-term effects on the longevity of your life. Plus, having high cholesterol can impact the price you would pay for life insurance.
» Learn more: Life Insurance and High Cholesterol
At Quotacy, we understand that uncertainty can be hard and overwhelming to deal with. You never know what tomorrow may bring. This is why having life insurance coverage is so important.
If you do have problems with managing cholesterol or any other health issues, Quotacy can still help you find coverage to secure your family’s financial future.
To see what you’d pay for life insurance, start with a free quote today.
If you’re not sure how much coverage you need, check out our free life insurance needs calculator.
About the writer
Director of Creative Strategy
Greg is Quotacy’s Director of Creative Strategy. He has an eclectic past from working on movie scripts to creating ad campaigns for major brands. His love of creative solutions drove him to strategy, and he now uses his powers to help families protect their loved ones. Outside of work, Greg spends his time off the grid hunting, fishing, camping, biking, hiking, and walking his dogs.