Blood lipids contain two of these lipids which include a type of fat called triglycerides and a waxy substance called cholesterol. Have you thought about which blood lipid is linked most directly to heart disease? Let’s know in this article about it. Blood lipids contain two of these lipids which include a type of fat called triglycerides and a waxy substance called cholesterol. Further cholesterol has two components that are low-density lipoprotein or LDL and high-density lipoprotein or HDH. The combo of High levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and low levels of HDL cholesterol is linked to heart disease.
High levels of LDL cholesterol which is often called the “bad” cholesterol, are associated with heart disease. LDL cholesterol can stick to the artery walls which encourages the formation of blockages or plaques. As the plaque build-up (a condition known as atherosclerosis) it reduces and ultimately blocks the flow of blood to the heart, which can result in chest pain and is a reason for a heart attack.
Low levels of HDL cholesterol or you may call them the “good” or “healthy” cholesterol, may also increase your risk of heart disease if not controlled properly. HDL cholesterol is responsible for removing the “bad” LDL cholesterol from your body. If these levels of HDL cholesterol are not quite high enough, then less of the “bad” cholesterol is removed.
Another reason associated with heart disease can be high levels of triglycerides because they are also a cause for a buildup of plaques. Triglycerides are stored in fat cells and their job is to supply your body with energy between meals. Also read, From Prevention to Treatment: Navigating Coronary Artery Disease
What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in the composition of blood. When you eat, your body converts any of the calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in the fat cells and later, these hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals. Try to burn more calories than you eat regularly, particularly from high-carbohydrate food otherwise you will have high triglycerides or hypertriglyceridemia.
What does it mean when your triglycerides are high?
High triglycerides mainly contribute to hardening or thickening artery walls or also known as arteriosclerosis which also increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. Extremely high triglyceride levels can also cause acute inflammation in the pancreas or commonly known as pancreatitis.
High triglycerides are often a sign of some conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke and are the reason for obesity and metabolic syndrome which are many of the conditions that include very much fat around the waist.
High triglycerides can also be a sign of:
- Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.
- Metabolic syndrome which is a condition having high blood pressure, obesity, and high blood sugar occurs altogether simultaneously, increasing your risk of heart disease.
- Low levels of thyroid hormones or hypothyroidism.
- Certain rare genetic conditions at birth affect how your body converts body fat to energy.
Sometimes it is seen that high triglycerides are a side effect of taking certain medications such as:
- Estrogen and progestin
- Some immunosuppressants
- Some HIV medications
How to lower triglycerides?
- Exercise regularly. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity on most or all days for a week. Regular exercise can lower triglycerides and boost “good” cholesterol. Try to inculcate more physical activity into your daily work.
- Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates as much as possible. It is seen that simple carbohydrates, like sugar and foods made with white flour or fructose, can increase triglycerides.
- Lose weight. If you have mild to moderate hypertriglyceridemia then try to focus on cutting your calories. Extra calories are converted to triglycerides and stored in the body as fat. Thus it would be best if you reduced your calories to reduce triglycerides.
- Choose healthier fats. Exchange your food habit of eating saturated fat found in meats for a healthier fat found in plants, such as olive and canola oils. Avoid consuming trans fats or foods with hydrogenated oils or fats.
- Limiting how much alcohol you drink also helps control triglycerides. Alcohol is high in calories and sugar and has a particularly major effect on triglycerides. If you have severe hypertriglyceridemia then totally avoid drinking any alcohol.
You can also read our another article on Heart disease prevention: 10 Preventive Measures to Keep Your Heart Healthy.
Which blood lipid is linked to heart disease?
You must have often heard about good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Cholesterol is one of the main lipids which is linked to heart disease. By link, we mean, its different levels may treat it, or make it worse. What you eat affects a lot of how healthy or unhealthy you get. Similarly, cholesterol is a blood lipid that contributes a lot to heart disease. By the term good and bad cholesterol, it must have been very clear that our body needs less amount of bad cholesterol and more amount of good cholesterol. Let’s dive deeper into this.
Good cholesterol, also called HDL cholesterol removes bad cholesterol from our body. If this is not done, this bad cholesterol can affect our hearts adversely. If the amount of good cholesterol in our body is low, less lousy cholesterol will be removed and we definitely don’t want that. So, levels of good cholesterol in our body should be high if we need to prevent ourselves from heart disease. There are many foods that are rich in good cholesterol. Including them in your diet can help you deal with heart problems very easily.
Olive oil is proven to be very beneficial in reducing the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in your body. Having a rich olive diet can help your heart remain healthy. Also, some people feel they should eat as little oil as possible because they are heart patients. But here is good news for them. Olive oil has monounsaturated fat, which is very healthy for your heart. If some oils are bad for your heart, they are saturated fats. You can include olives in your breakfast. Or you may opt to use extra virgin olive oil in your diet, rather than any other refined oil.
Another eatable that is rich in HDL cholesterol is beans and legumes. These are foods rich in soluble fiber. Proven soluble fiber helps to reduce LDL cholesterol in your body. You can opt to eat kidney beans as your breakfast and can include lentils in your lunch. This will give a noticeable boost to your good cholesterol levels. And hence a noticeable reduction in your LDL cholesterol levels.
Not only foods, but regular exercise can also help in increasing the levels of HDL cholesterol in your body. Don’t jump into heavy exercises all at once. Start with walking. Set a time span for yourself and then, gradually keep on increasing it according to your comfort.
Stop smoking! You must have heard many people say that smoking is bad for health. And that smoking kills. But most of us ignore it completely. This can throw us into a lot of problems. Studies show that people who smoke have a very low level of HDL cholesterol in their bodies, which keeps decreasing as and when they smoke. So, if you want the HDL levels of your body to boost up, stop smoking right away and you will see the results.
To keep a check on your cholesterol levels, you can get a lipid profile test done. It would tell you the levels of all the important lipids in your body, and according to the reports, you can change or continue your eating and exercise schedules.
It’s not so difficult to keep your heart in a good shape. And we, are always here to help you with it.