The answer is yes! Yes, high cholesterol can cause blood pressure at times. When you have elevated cholesterol levels there are chances that you may have high blood pressure as well. But it may not happen all the time. There are cases where there is high cholesterol level but normal blood pressure.
The relation between cholesterol and blood pressure is strong but may not be visible always. When you have elevated cholesterol level in the blood, watch out for the blood pressure, why? Cholesterol is one of the causes of blood vessel clogging that leads to high blood pressure readings. It is a significant cause as well.
How cholesterol causes high blood pressure?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that our body makes. These fatty substances are useful for hormone production, making vitamin D and for making other useful substances. It is healthy when it stays within the normal range. When the cholesterol is high they can stick to the blood vessel walls. Having cholesterol stuck to the blood vessel walls makes the vessels narrower that exerts the heart to pump harder to maintain the same flow. This stress on the heart leads to higher blood pressure.
Even finer, it is the LDL-low density lipoprotein that is the key. Elevation in this type of cholesterol is what makes it dangerous. It is this cholesterol type that clogs the arteries. The clogged arteries cause elevated pressure on the blood flow. The prolonged high blood pressure damages the arteries. The sticky cholesterol may also develop blood clots and completely block the blood flow.
On the other hand, there is the HDL, high-density lipoprotein that is called healthy as it ‘unclogs’ the clogs. HDL is capable of controlling the LDL level. Thus these have justifiable names, the good cholesterol, and bad cholesterol respectively.
Is cholesterol always bad?
As mentioned, cholesterol is a useful substance for the body, may be an essential substance. What is healthy is a balanced cholesterol level. There are mainly 3 cholesterol components- total cholesterol, LDL, and HDL.
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LDL is the baddie here and HDL the savior. You need to have more of HDL than LDL to stay healthy. Since you have good cholesterol that can nullify the bad effects of the other cholesterol type, cholesterol is not always bad. It is bad when it all goes out of proportion.
How to keep cholesterol and blood pressure under control?
Cholesterol and blood pressure are partners in crime and at the same time can work independently. There could be different reasons for their elevated levels. When it is about controlling their levels, it all comes to the diet.
The basics of controlling these factors are to exercise properly, eating less and eating right, and drinking plenty of water.
Exercise improves cholesterol numbers. A regular 40 minutes of physical activity can keep a check on cholesterol levels. American Heart Association suggests you have at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or double the time of moderate exercises to keep the heart healthy. Fast walking, cycling, playing tennis- doubles, swimming etc comprises of moderate exercises. The vigorous exercises include the likes of jogging, running, tennis (singles), cycling faster, hiking etc.
Exercises help improve the good cholesterol levels naturally so that you can keep a tab on the bad cholesterol. But exercises cannot directly lower the bad cholesterol. For that, you have to rely on dietary changes.
Dieting requires you adding healthy food to the menu and cutting down the unhealthy food items from the menu.
The first thing you need to do is to cut down the saturated fats from the diet. The saturated fats are the likes of full-fat dairy products, red meat, palm oil, coconut oil etc. Equally bad are the high cholesterol foods like egg yolks, shellfish, and other organ meats. Cut them all down or bring their use to minimal.
You can easily replace these items with the healthy options. Use unsaturated fats and oils as the healthier option. Let’s start with omega fatty acid, which is a fat that has numerous health benefits. You can find these fats in cod-fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel etc. The cod liver oil capsules can also serve as a substitute.
Eat only the egg whites and let go of the yellow yolk. Choose chicken over red meat. Replace the high-fat dairy products with those that are low in fat. Soy is a healthier choice as it has more protein. Choose olive oil instead of the full-fat coconut oil. Avocado is also rich in omega fats and can increase the HDL levels.
Add more soluble fiber to the diet. The soluble fiber lowers the cholesterol by a good margin. Good choice of soluble fiber is oats (whole oats), peas, sweet potatoes, beans etc. You also have the options in vegetables such as carrots, beets, eggplant, Brussels sprouts etc. You may also choose fruits such as apples, oranges, nectarines, passion fruits, apricots, pears, berries etc.
Go vegetarian for protein
Choosing the plant-based protein is better to cut down cholesterol. Eat plenty of lentils to get protein and fiber. Legumes have the ability to lower the bad cholesterol and are also rich in nutrients. You can eat all types of beans- red beans, white beans, kidney beans, soybeans etc for the protein.
You may also have a few nuts and dry fruits to help lower the bad cholesterol.
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The good old tea
Yes, tea is powerful enough to lower cholesterol! Black tea can reduce the LDL levels and lower it by 10%. Black tea contains antioxidants for better health. Alternately drink Green tea 1-2 times a day as well for better results.
Black tea is also helpful for lowering blood pressure. So is Green tea, but you need to use it long-term. Green tea is also a better option than having too much coffee.
Salt, cholesterol and blood pressure
Reduce salt to lower the blood pressure. High sodium can increase higher blood pressure. So choose the non-salty nuts as the healthier option. Too much sodium can stretch the arteries and damage them. It will also cause more cholesterol build up on the arterial walls. Salt not only increases the blood pressure, it also gives more opportunity for cholesterol to clog the arteries as well. This is the good reason to cut down on salt. Add only as much salt as needed and let go of all the salty food.
Plenty of water
Drinking water thins the blood and allows the blood to flow smoothly. Water can also improve the acidic nature of the blood. Acidic blood tends to favor bad cholesterol. When the pH of blood changes to neutral, it is less favorable for the LDL to stay higher. Water flushes out the cholesterol gradually.
Water also plays its role in regulating blood pressure. When the body has less water, it retains water with high sodium storage. This leads to higher blood pressure. When you drink excess water, it flushes out the sodium, reducing the blood pressure as well.
You also need to reduce the body weight if it is higher, quit smoking and reduce the alcohol consumption to keep a check on both cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Smoking: High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking are a deadly combination. Smoking lowers the good cholesterol that gradually increases the LDL levels to dangerous levels. Smoking increases the blood pressure and heart rate that stresses out the heart. Quitting smoking has its benefits in many ways.
- Alcohol: In the same way, too much alcohol raises the blood pressure. On the other hand, a moderate amount of alcohol may be good to lower cholesterol, especially red wine. But the excess quantity and regular consumption have the opposite effect that raises both the cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
- Weight: Body weight may also have its impact on cholesterol levels. A body that is overweight has more chances of having higher cholesterol than a leaner body. The effect is the same with blood pressure. Lose 5-10 pounds to have a major impact on blood pressure levels.
Cholesterol and blood pressure are definitely related. Keeping their relation healthier is up to you. Cholesterol should be able to improve the blood pressure levels and not elevate it. Keep the cholesterol and blood pressure levels under check. Go for regular checkups to make sure that you are doing well. Eat well, stay healthy and have healthier cholesterol and blood pressure levels.