What is hyperlipidemia?
Hyperlipidemia is a medical term that indicates an elevated level of fats (or lipids) in the blood. The most commonly treated type of hyperlipidemia is high cholesterol. Having high levels of lipids in the blood can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Excess amounts of lipids can build up on the walls of the arteries and form plaques. The plaques can slow or obstruct the flow of blood (called atherosclerosis) to vital organs. Hyperlipidemia can be managed with lifestyle changes but often requires medication as well.
What type of foods contribute to hyperlipidemia?
A diet high in saturated fats, sugar and refined carbohydrates can lead to high cholesterol over time. However, not all foods with high cholesterol are bad for you. For example, eggs and fish are high-fat foods that are considered highly nutritious, and don’t have a negative impact on your cholesterol levels or general health. On the other hand, processed foods, desserts and fast foods can raise cholesterol levels in the blood, increasing your chances of developing hyperlipidemia.
Is cholesterol bad for you?
This is a common misconception about cholesterol. Contrary to this belief, cholesterol is necessary to provide flexibility to cell membranes, and is essential in the synthesis of certain hormones and vitamin D. However, if you have too much of LDL cholesterol – due to poor diet or lack of exercise – it can have a negative effect on your overall health, especially your heart. Your body naturally produces cholesterol, and there are two types of cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein, (LDL) is considered the “bad” cholesterol. On the other hand, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the “good” cholesterol. Making unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as eating processed foods, drinking too much alcohol, and smoking, can contribute to an elevated level of LDL.
LDL versus HDL
LDL is considered “unhealthy” because it causes fatty buildup in the arteries and contributes to heart disease. HDL contributes to your health by taking cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver, where it can be broken down even further and removed from the body. Therefore, it is ideal to have a high level of HDL (“good” cholesterol) and a low level of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.