Since high cholesterol has no symptoms, you may be putting yourself at risk without even realizing it. “Cholesterol is a waxy substance in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, but high cholesterol can increase your risk for heart disease,” explains the Mayo Clinic. “Factors that may increase your risk for bad cholesterol include the following.” Read what the clinic says, and to safeguard your health and the health of others, don’t overlook these obvious signs that you had COVID without knowing it.
1. Poor diet can lead to high cholesterol.
“Eating saturated fats found in animal products and trans fats found in some store-bought cookies and crackers and microwave popcorn can raise your cholesterol,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “Foods high in cholesterol, such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, also raise your cholesterol.”
2. Obesity can cause high cholesterol.
“Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more puts you at risk for high cholesterol,” says the Mayo Clinic.
3. Lack of exercise can lead to high cholesterol
“Exercise helps increase the body’s HDL, the “good” cholesterol, while increasing the size of the particles that make up LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, making it less harmful,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
4. Smoking can cause high cholesterol.
“Smoking damages the walls of your blood vessels, making them more prone to fatty buildup. Smoking can also lower your HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol levels,” says the Mayo Clinic.
5. Your age may be a factor in high cholesterol.
“Because your body chemistry changes with age, your risk for high cholesterol increases. For example, as you age, your liver becomes less able to remove LDL cholesterol,” says the Mayo Clinic.
6. Diabetes can lead to high cholesterol.
“High blood sugar contributes to increased levels of a dangerous cholesterol called VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) and decreased HDL cholesterol. High blood sugar also damages the lining of your arteries,” says the Mayo Clinic.
7. How can high cholesterol be prevented?
“The same heart-healthy lifestyle changes that can lower your cholesterol can help you prevent high cholesterol in the first place,” says the Mayo Clinic. “To prevent high cholesterol, you can:
- Eat a low-salt diet, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Limit animal fats and use good fats in moderation.
- Lose excess weight and maintain a healthy weight.
- Stop smoking.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
- Manage your stress.