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How cholesterol affects the heart
Most people know that high cholesterol is bad for their heart, but few people really understand what cholesterol is. An expert explains why it is so closely related to heart problems - and explains how high cholesterol can be reduced.
Elevated cholesterol, along with other factors such as smoking, obesity, alcohol abuse and sedentary lifestyle, are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But what is cholesterol? That explains Dr. Claire Haga, a doctor from the renowned Mayo Clinic (USA) in a recent article.
Cholesterol is important
The labels "low cholesterol" or "cholesterol free" can often be found on food labels. And in texts about healthy eating and by medical personnel, it is often pointed out that cholesterol can be dangerous for health. But what does it mean?
“You need cholesterol to promote a healthy brain. However, there is bad cholesterol, and that is exactly what builds up the plaques in our arteries, ”says Dr. Haga. "And we're worried about that."
In technical terms, a distinction is made between low density lipoprotein (LDL) (which is colloquially referred to as "bad" cholesterol) and high density lipoprotein (HDL) (the "good" cholesterol).
Dangerous deposits in the blood vessels
As explained in the Mayo Clinic article, cholesterol is a waxy substance found in blood lipids.
If you have high cholesterol, fat deposits can form in your blood vessels, which can make it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries, it says.
"This bad cholesterol, if these plaques form and burst, can ... cause a heart attack or even a stroke," explains Dr. Haga.
Avoid certain foods better
The doctor points out that the cholesterol level is influenced by the diet and therefore everyone has the opportunity to influence it.
For example, by consuming fewer foods with trans fatty acids. Among other things, trans fats are abundant in finished products or in donuts and cookies.
And also in products with shortening, in fast food and in fried foods. Dr. Haga advises to avoid such dishes as much as possible.
In addition, saturated fats should be saved, which are often found in animal products such as bacon or butter.
Integrate more omega-3 fatty acids into your menu
Last but not least, you can lower cholesterol levels by consuming more omega-3 fatty acids, says Dr. Haga.
Good omega-3 suppliers include walnuts, green leafy vegetables (e.g. lamb's lettuce), avocados, some vegetable oils (e.g. rapeseed, walnut and linseed oils) and chia seeds. Above all, fish provides omega-3 fatty acids. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Mayo Clinic: Mayo Clinic Minute: How cholesterol affects your heart, (access: 05.02.2020), Mayo Clinic