A Guide to Low Cholesterol in Women

· 8th May 2015

The risks of high blood cholesterol are not equal between the genders. Also, there are gender-specific factors, which affect what the blood cholesterol levels will be. For example, women experience hormonal changes, which cause the levels to increase during both pregnancy and menopause.  Therefore, as a woman, you should be familiar with the details of a woman’s cholesterol levels and should learn more about how to control them. Here we tell you how you can do that in practice!

You may already know that cholesterol is a type of fat that is found naturally in the body. It is vital for performing several important metabolic functions in women. It is involved in the production of several female hormones, as well as with the production of vitamin D and biliary acids. In order to be transported in the blood, it requires the lipoproteins: LDL and HDL. When the lipoproteins become imbalanced health is compromised.

What causes high cholesterol in women?

woman

Pre-menopausal high cholesterol

Prior to the menopause, there are several risk factors that can lead to a women experiencing high cholesterol levels prior to the menopause. High cholesterol levels prior to the age of 50 years can require specific medication or changes in dietary habits to rectify it. Here are some more details about the causes:

  • Pregnancy: Pregnancy triggers high levels of the female hormone oestrogen which the body manufactures to maintain the pregnancy. The placenta of the developing foetus is involved in this process. Cholesterol is a fat that is essential for the formation of oestrogen and the other placental hormones. As a result, blood cholesterol levels will be elevated during pregnancy. Pregnancy also disrupts a woman’s anabolic processes, which also causes high cholesterol. It is vital that you attend all of your prenatal checkups with your doctor and your midwife so that they can advise you on the most appropriate treatment.
  • Using contraceptive pills: The combined oral contraceptive pill contains synthetic versions of both oestrogen and progesterone. They can alter the triglyceride and cholesterol levels in the blood, which affects the HDL and LDL levels.
  • Hypothyroidism: A surprisingly high number of women suffer from hypothyroidism. This results from the thyroid gland producing very little of the thyroid hormone. This slows down the body’s metabolism. With a slower metabolism the liver has a reduced capacity to process the blood and the cholesterol levels can increase.
  • Kidney failure: Although this is more rare it can happen in pre-menopausal women. Lipids begin to accumulate in the blood because the kidneys are unable to process them properly. The result is elevated cholesterol levels.
  • Obesity: This is an increasing health problem amongst women. Accumulated fats immediately imbalance HDL and LDL levels, thereby increasing cholesterol. The health risks are caused by fats adhering to veins and arteries, leading to dangerous narrowing of these vessels.

Cholesterol during menopause

Cholesterol inevitably increases as the menopause approaches. Women sometimes become exasperated when they can’t find the cause because they are eating a healthy diet and adopting a healthy lifestyle. What could be the cause? The answer lies in the oestrogen imbalance during menopause. Prior to the age of 50, oestrogen levels are kept in balance. Then the change in hormone activity at menopause causes the blood cholesterol levels to increase. You may wish to see your doctor to discuss this. You may be able to take hormone replacement therapy to adjust your blood cholesterol levels.

How can women fight high cholesterol?

The power of red and blue fruit

mixed Red-fruit

Red and blue fruits such as watermelon, pomegranate, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and plums all help to lower blood sugar, fight bad cholesterol and care for the heart.

  • A further advantage for women is that they also prevent urinary tract inflammation. They are an excellent source of antioxidants.
  • These fruits also contain anthocyanin, which is highly effective at reducing cholesterol levels.
  • Try to drink a natural juice made with these fruits every morning. Alternatively you could eat them with oats.

Guidelines for a healthy diet

mixed Fruits-and-vegetables

  • Avoid consuming convenience foods like pastries, pies and fries.
  • Eat loads of fruit and vegetables especially leafy greens.
  • Eat plenty of whole grains like oatmeal and linseed.
  • Always use olive oil.
  • Bake food as opposed to frying.
  • Get plenty of exercise! All you need to do is walk 40 minutes a day!
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