We frequently hear about the risks of high cholesterol and heart disease in men, but we don’t often hear about the risks of high levels of Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) and heart disease in women.
Women have a yearly breast exam to detect a lump in the breast or visit the OB/GYN for a yearly physical exam, yet the need for a yearly cholesterol screening to detect high LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels is often overlooked. In fact heart disease kills nearly 267,000 women each year, which is six times as many women die from breast cancer, yet more information is provided about breast cancer prevention.
What Causes High Cholesterol
High LDL cholesterol is generally the result of a poor diet of processed foods that are high in cholesterol, sugar, sodium and trans-fats. In addition to poor diet, smoking cigarettes, lack of exercise and high levels of stress lead to high LDL cholesterol. LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to cells. When the level of cholesterol raises above the level the liver can process, this leads to dangerously high LDL cholesterol in the blood.
Silently, high cholesterol causes the build up of gummy calcium deposits on the walls of the arteries that lead to cardiovascular disease. Eventually, this blockage completely prevents the efficient flow of blood and leads to a potentially deadly heart attack or stroke. A cholesterol screening by a doctor can determine if the levels of LDL cholesterol are normal or high.
Health Tips to Reduce Cholesterol
Here are a few simple lifestyle changes women can make to reduce high LDL cholesterol:
- Exercise 3 to 5 times a week for 30 minutes or more per day
- Quit smoking and reduce consumption of alcohol
- Reduce or eliminate the consumption of foods high in cholesterol, sugar, sodium and trans-fats to reduce or eliminate high LDL cholesterol.
- Increase consumption of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which reduces inflammation in the arteries and cells.
- Increase consumption of green leafy vegetables, which are high in zinc and iron, which naturally reduces levels of cholesterol.