With the holiday season in full swing, it’s easy to be tempted by flavorful – but fatty – foods. The tempting treats could put you at risk though for higher cholesterol levels. Dr. Yazid Fadl, medical director for non-invasive cardiology at Clarian cardiovascular, shares some insights on steering clear of “bad” cholesterol and enjoying the holidays.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat that is waxy. The majority of your cholesterol is produced by your body – it’s essential for things such as making vitamins and hormones. Even such things as allowing you to walk and talk, are all regulated or specified by cholesterol.
What’s the difference between “good” and “bad” cholesterol?
I like to think of cholesterol as riding around in little “cars” inside your arteries. Those “cars” are called lipoproteins. Two examples of lipoproteins are LDL, known as “bad” cholesterol, and HDL, known as “good cholesterol.” HDL is effective for clearing out all the cholesterol that’s lingering around and bringing it back to the liver for processing. Meanwhile, LDL doesn’t always end up where it should and it can stick in your artery walls and accumulate.
What can happen if someone has too much bad cholesterol?
Unfortunately, the problem arises when cholesterol starts to line artery walls and your body identifies it as a bad thing and then attacks it. That attack causes an inflammation of the arteries. As a result, the area starts to harden and becomes more fragile so there’s a higher chance of those arteries bursting internally. If that happens, that cholesterol can burst open into the blood vessels, causing a clot that blocks off the blood supply. The location of that artery within your body determines whether a bursting leads to something as minute as tingling in a finger, or as serious as a heart attack or stroke.
How can I lower my cholesterol?
Talk to your doctor – don’t feel that you can take care of this on your own by just eating differently or losing weight. You might need a medication. In fact, most people who need medications are not on any.
Also, steer clear of animal fats, which raise your bad cholesterol. Plants oils, especially canola and olive oil, help improve your good cholesterol. Make sure to follow a high-fiber diet, which can also help lower bad cholesterol levels.
Are people more apt to develop high cholesterol around the holidays?
Your arteries can go numb after eating a highly fatty meal, which many of us do during the holidays. Numb arteries don’t function normally and while that short-term stunting typically goes away, it does demonstrate the power cholesterol can have on your arteries. This is particularly important for anyone with coronary heart disease because numb arteries won’t open the way they should normallyCutting cholesterol
Here are some tips for cutting down cholesterol during the holidays:
Don’t finish your plate – take leftovers home for another meal.
Know the difference between eating until you’re no longer hungry versus eating until you’re full. Focus on achieving the former.
Practice moderation in eating.
Watch out for salty and fatty meals. A prolonged mix can lead to other issues, such as hypertension and heart attack.