Can Stress Cause High Cholesterol: 5 Effective Exercises

Can stress cause high cholesterol? Times have changed, and we currently live in times where keeping up with the pace of the world is becoming stressful, and it comes with a price in the form of a multitude of illnesses.

Can stress cause high cholesterol? Let us delve into this topic and see how stress and cholesterol are co-related, the risk factors if you are dealing with chronic stress1, and how chronic stress puts your body at risk of getting many diseases. There are more chances of being prone to heart disease2 and cardiovascular disease risk.3

Can Stress Cause High Cholesterol

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1. What is Cholesterol, and What Does It Mean?

This subject takes us to what cholesterol means and how the human body needs to function healthily. Cholesterol, a sterol and a type of lipid is required by the body to make Vitamin D, some hormones, and a few substances that aid digestion.

Too much cholesterol levels in the blood flow are detrimental as it forms plaque, leading to atherosclerosis by sticking to your artery walls. This curbs the normal flow of oxygen-rich blood to your body and can lead to life-threatening conditions like coronary artery hypertension,4 Carotid artery disease, and peripheral arterial hypertension. If you still think can stress cause high cholesterol, it can be one of the causes.

If you look at public health in the United States, 38% of Americans suffer from high cholesterol, and the reasons are many. Cholesterol levels which are normal and of a good mg dl, perform several vital functions.

2. Different Types of Cholesterol

Cholesterol levels fluctuate, and the different types of cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and VLDL, are lipoproteins. HDL Cholesterol is high-density lipoprotein, and it is termed good cholesterol. The HDL carries toxins from all body parts to the liver, and the liver flushes them out. A good amount of HDL cholesterol lowers the risk of getting heart disease.

LDL cholesterol is the low-density lipoprotein, and a rise in this can lead to plaque buildup in the artery walls. If your lipoprotein 5is extremely low, it is termed VLDL. This, like LDL cholesterol, is harmful to the body and can lead to a buildup of plaque in your artery walls. The only difference between VLDL and LDL cholesterol is the former carries triglycerides and the latter cholesterol.

Triglycerides are related to what you eat. Everything you eat is turned into fat by triglycerides, and they get deposited in the body. You have to remember that cholesterol is fat and does not get dissolved.

A systematic review by getting blood lipid profiles will help you check the cholesterol levels in the body. A total cholesterol level of 200 mg dl is good, and if it is anything above that, you can go for advice on diagnosis or treatment. Your doctor might be able to help you with a diet plan or give other suggestions to lower your cholesterol levels and reach a good mg dl level.

3. What Are the Causes of High Cholesterol?

Can Stress Cause High Cholesterol

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The reasons for having high cholesterol levels are many, the most important ones being unhealthy habits and poor lifestyles. Lack of physical work, too much smoking, and a bad diet all contribute in some way or the other to lowering the HDL, the good cholesterol, and increasing the LDL, the bad cholesterol.

A misbalance in cholesterol levels, especially a high LDL, can lead to health problems like cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and sometimes heart attack. Middle-aged men and women are at higher risk of having cholesterol due to the age factor.

Prospective cohort studies of stress show that female law enforcement officers have higher stress than male law enforcement officers in America. That makes them more prone to high cholesterol and the other diseases that come because of it. In the same way, professional drivers are said to have a lot of job stress, leading to more cholesterol and a list of other health problems because of stress.

4. Can Stress Cause High Cholesterol?

In today’s times, where everyone leads a hectic lifestyle, stress hormones are on the rise, slowly creeping their way up to be one of the main reasons for high cholesterol levels. There is a change in the hormone levels and some blood components when under stress. This can play a role in leading to bad cholesterol that can mess up your overall health. 

Can Stress Cause High Cholesterol

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In other words, if you ask, can stress cause high cholesterol, then the answer is, yes, it can. There are different types of stress: psychological stress, work-related stress, chronic stress, stress caused by poor eating habits, and long-term stress. They all play with the stress level in your body and can lead to high blood pressure. This can put you at a cardiovascular disease risk, heart disease, and heart health, affecting your mental health to a large extent.

5. Five Causes that Can Lead to High Stress and Thereby High Cholesterol

Since we are discussing the topic of ‘Can stress cause high cholesterol?’, let us briefly look at the five causes that can adversely affect your stress hormones. The fight or flight response that comes in the wake of acute stress is frightening and can bring changes in stress levels that can affect the total cholesterol in the body.

5.1 Stress

Research shows that being under high stress is one of the major factors contributing to your cholesterol levels. We all go through a stressful time at some stage in our lives. What can cause stress? It differs for each individual, making it hard to give it a fixed definition.

Be it physical stress or psychological stress, it can play havoc with your body, thereby making you prone to many health problems. If your stress is reduced, it can bring positive changes in your life, and you can see your good cholesterol levels going up.

5.2 Lack of Physical Activity

One of the other causes of high blood cholesterol is a sedentary lifestyle or lack of physical activity, which can be easily rectified by chalking out a healthy exercise program. Regular exercise can increase HDL and lower LDL considerably. It is now always about healthy eating; sometimes, you require regular exercise to have good health.6

Can Stress Cause High Cholesterol

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5.3 Over-Exercising

We get to see many people overdoing things, be it exercise or food. Everything needs to be done in moderation to affect the human body positively, and anything in excess can prove detrimental. If you are doing high-intensity exercises and physical work, it is better to take the advice of a doctor or a physical trainer. Too much exercise can enhance chronic stress and disturb your body mass index and metabolism.

5.4 Family History of High Cholesterol

There are chances you all are prone to getting cholesterol at some stage in life if your parents and family members have it. In that case, it would be advisable to get medically reviewed at regular intervals. Seek professional medical advice, and a lipid profile blood test is the best way to check your cholesterol levels.

5.5 Lack of proper sleep

Sleep is an important factor when it comes to any illness. A night of good sleep is the best way to feel refreshed and rejuvenated, making its role imperative in our lives. Lack of proper sleep increases stress and increases the risk factors of getting high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and anxiety disorders.

Excessive sleep, eating too many unhealthy foods, and too much medication can adversely affect cholesterol levels and overall upset health. Often, family problems can also aggravate stress and cause psychological stress.

This brings us back again to the subject can stress cause high cholesterol. Food plays an important role in maintaining weight and keeping the body healthy and fit. A healthy body and mind reduce risk factors caused due to stress have been shown in a cross-sectional study on cholesterol and the topic, can stress cause high cholesterol.

Each person deals with stress differently, and the techniques to reduce stress also differ depending on the individual. Hormones cortisol also called the stress hormone, are sometimes given to treat people with stress hormones. It helps respond to stress and reduce stress and the risk factors of high pressure and high cholesterol7.

6.1 Personality Factor and Stress

Research shows a link between personalities and stress response. Grouped under A, B, C, D, and E, these personality types have behavioral patterns. Personalities under A and D are sensitive to stress hormones. It is believed these personality types have a higher heart rate during a stressful times, releasing more sugar into the bloodstream and restricting the arteries.

That again brings us to the question, can stress cause high cholesterol? Research shows those who dealt with stress well had high HDL levels, and they helped cleanse the saturated fats from the body. There are many relaxation techniques to lower stress levels and get back to healthy living. The American College of Cardiology suggests taking a brisk walk, jogging, riding a bike, swimming, gardening, or doing heavy housework to prevent the risk of heart disease.

Can Stress Cause High Cholesterol

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Exercise, yoga, music, gardening, eating healthy, and sleeping for eight hours are excellent techniques to practice, and they reduce the risk of falling sick due to chronic stress. You can seek help if none of this is helping you deal with your chronic stress problems. A good advice diagnosis or treatment will help deal with it healthily.

7. Five Exercises to Reduce Your Stress Levels and Cholesterol Levels

7.1 Yoga

Yoga is a powerful tool that promotes relaxation, and practicing yoga gives immense relief to stress-related illnesses to a large extent. It helps bring the body, mind, and spirit together, thereby infusing peace within. The benefits of doing yoga are many; it helps you sleep better, gives you a good balance in life, improves physical and mental health, and promotes wellness.

Can Stress Cause High Cholesterol

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7.2 Walking

A bit of fresh air and walking outside enjoying nature are good ways to reduce stress. Unlike yoga, you need not attend any classes. Take a brisk walk daily, and you will know the answer to can stress cause high cholesterol. Feel your tight muscles loosening, and it is a good release of stress and tension. A 20-25 minute walk will do the trick. You will see a visible change in you and your mg dl levels.

7.3 Gardening

It is advisable to pursue a hobby like gardening, where you come into contact with nature, and the fruits of your labor are visible in the form of blooming flowers and vegetables. Any physical work is a good way to divert the mind and channel it properly.

7.4 Join Dancing Classes

Can stress cause high cholesterol? Yes, it does. Dance is a good way to get out of your mundane daily routine and lower stress. Connecting with other people and learning new steps are stress busters. See a change in your mental and physical health once you join dancing classes. Studies show there is less risk of getting dementia, and your heartbeat will increase if you go to dancing classes twice a week.

7.5 Tennis

Tennis is a good cardio workout and is highly beneficial to the cardiovascular system. It is good for the heart and blood pressure, and being connected to others reduces the risk of being stressed. Playing tennis is good for the brain and overall health.

Can Stress Cause High Cholesterol

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All the exercises mentioned above are good for reducing the risk factors that come with high cholesterol but check with your doctor before starting any activities like tennis and dancing. If you already have heart disease, your doctor will be the best person to guide you on the activity levels to choose from.

8. What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic Syndrome is not a disease but a collection of illnesses that create risk factors in health if it cannot be controlled with a healthy diet and exercise regime. You might have to take medication after going for an advised diagnosis or treatment because having one disease like high cholesterol is unhealthy enough. Having a set of high-risk diseases is fatal for the body.

This group of health conditions is becoming common globally, and it can last lifelong as there is no cure known for it. Unhealthy habits, especially when it comes to eating, can be detrimental to good health and put you at risk of getting illnesses. Psychological stress can go unnoticed for a long time if you are not mindful. That brings us back to the topic, can stress cause high cholesterol? A good diet will help tackle stress and the cholesterol that follows it.

9. Say Goodbye to Stress with These 5 Foods

9.1 Dark Chocolate

Feeling stressed, add dark chocolate to your snack list. Put a square in your mouth if you have job stress, psychological stress, or other stress. Dark chocolate is a mood enhancer, and it will lower your stress hormones cortisol. That answers your query can stress cause high cholesterol. After a couple of weeks, if you get your lipid profile test done, you might see a change in the mg dl levels.

9.2 Fatty Fish

If you like to eat fish, adding fish to your diet is good. Fatty fish like sardines, mackerel, salmon, tuna, and herring are rich in Omega-3 fats and Vitamin D. It is a good combination to lower stress, like job stress and other types of stress.

Can Stress Cause High Cholesterol

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Omega-3 fatty acids will help you handle stress and anxiety, and Vitamin D is essential for good mental health and stress regulation. If you dislike eating fish, chia seeds, flax seeds, avocados, and anchovies are good replacements to have a diet rich in Omega-3 fats.

9.3 Food with Magnesium Content

We all know the answer to the question can stress cause high cholesterol? It is easy to start by having a good diet plan and doing good exercises to be mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy. Food rich in magnesium content is another healthy way of lowering stress and avoiding the illnesses that come with stress.

Can Stress Cause High Cholesterol

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Magnesium helps to reduce any inflammation in the body and relax the body and mind. Some foods loaded with magnesium content are dark chocolate, nuts, avocados, broccoli, and spinach.

9.4 Black Tea

Black tea is supposed to lower your cortisol levels, a stress hormone, and it is said to help you deal with everyday stress. Black tea drinkers come out of stressful situations more quickly than those who do not drink black tea. Anxiety disorders, depression, stress, lack of sleep, weight gain, and headaches are some of the stress-related problems that can be made better by drinking black tea.

9.5 Whole Grains

Brown rice, rye, quinoa, etc., are some types of whole grains with more nutrition than the white rice you consume. Switching to wheat pasta instead of your regular pasta is one of the ways to lower your cholesterol levels in case they are on the higher side.

Can Stress Cause High Cholesterol

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If you think stress causes high cholesterol, you can tweak your dietary plan to include a few food items mentioned above. Say goodbye to processed foods, keep your weight normal, and quit smoking so that your HDL cholesterol levels are good.

10. In The End

Can Stress Cause High Cholesterol

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Can stress cause high cholesterol? We know the answer by now and what can be done to be aware of our stress levels and how to deal with it so that it does not lead to other diseases. Some exercises can be followed or food choices incorporated into your daily eating habits to deal with stress and be free from life-threatening illnesses.

Read more from us here.

Top 6 Stress-Induced Health Problems & Their Prevention
Icy Health

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  4. Rosendorff, Clive, et al. “Treatment of hypertension in patients with coronary artery disease: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, and American Society of Hypertension.” Circulation 131.19 (2015): e435-e470. ↩︎
  5. Utermann, Gerd. “The mysteries of lipoprotein (a).” Science 246.4932 (1989): 904-910. ↩︎
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  7. Castelli, William P., and Keaven Anderson. “A population at risk: prevalence of high cholesterol levels in hypertensive patients in the Framingham Study.” The American journal of medicine 80.2 (1986): 23-32. ↩︎

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