Heart disease and excess fat seem to go hand and hand: If you’re overweight, you could be at risk for heart problems and high cholesterol. But did you know that you could have high cholesterol even if you’re thin?
It’s a common misconception about cholesterol, that you have to be overweight to worry about it, according to the American Heart Association. While being overweight and obese can raise your cholesterol levels, there are other factors that can contribute, the AHA says.
Age is a major factor, and getting older raises your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Heredity can also play a role, and for some, if high cholesterol runs in your family, you’ll have it no matter what you do.
Postmenopausal women may find that their cholesterol levels will rise even though estrogen supplements can raise HDL (good) levels, the AHA says.
But a heart-healthy diet low in fat in high in vegetables, along with exercise, will help tremendously, the AHA says.
Some foods will raise your cholesterol (egg yolks, pork, shrimp, margarine and liver), but this gets tricky because it’s possible to eat these foods and still stay thin. If you have a healthy diet otherwise, you can be thin with high cholesterol, and you may not even know that you have a problem.
Even foods that have “low-cholesterol” labels can lead to high cholesterol levels because food that is high in saturated fat, trans fat and calories can raise your cholesterol, the AHA says. That’s why cholesterol can be very confusing.
It’s often the people who don’t gain weight easily who are less aware of how much saturated and trans fat they eat, and their hearts may not be healthy.
It’s important to have regular cholesterol checks regardless of your weight and physical activity, according to the AHA.
Written by Danielle Braff. Photo by 123RF.