Two Signs of High Cholesterol
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
High cholesterol is a silent foe. A blood test is required to determine if you have it because there are usually no symptoms.
Certain diseases and lifestyle factors can place you at a higher risk of developing high cholesterol.
Maintaining healthy cholesterol homeostasis is possible through diet, exercise, and the help of a once-a-day fatty15 supplement.*
You may not even know you have high cholesterol. You might suspect it if you have a family history or if you suspect your health isn’t where it should be. Although it requires a blood test, certain factors can make you more likely to develop high cholesterol.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance in the bloodstream. It’s necessary to create hormones and play a role in creating cell membranes.
Your liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs, but it is also found in the foods we eat, particularly in foods like red meat, processed meats, and lard.
There are two different types of cholesterol.
- Low-density lipoprotein. LDL cholesterol is called your “bad cholesterol.” This is the cholesterol that causes a build-up in your arteries and can cause them to harden.
- High-density lipoprotein. HDL cholesterol is called your “good cholesterol.” This type of cholesterol helps move bad cholesterol out of the bloodstream.
Your healthcare provider may also measure your triglycerides. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in your body. When you consume calories you don’t burn, your body stores the excess calories as fat or triglycerides.
What Are the Symptoms of High Cholesterol?
High cholesterol doesn’t have any symptoms. You’ll need a blood test to determine whether or not your total cholesterol level is too high. Your doctor will order a lipid panel to measure your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
What Are the Complications of High Cholesterol?
High cholesterol puts you at a higher risk of developing certain life-threatening illnesses.
When cholesterol collects in your arteries, it can sometimes break off and form a clot. If the clot blocks blood flow to your heart, you’ll experience a heart attack.
Like a heart attack, a stroke happens when a piece of arterial plaque ruptures from the artery wall and lodges in a blood vessel that blocks blood flow to your brain.
Other Health Issues
Before a heart attack or stroke, high cholesterol can lead to blood vessel diseases like atherosclerosis, which involves the hardening of the arteries. You may also experience chest pain (angina) or coronary artery disease, a precursor to atherosclerosis.
When Should I Get a Lipid Panel?
The American Heart Association recommends getting a lipid panel once every four to six years once you are over the age of 20. After age 40, you may need to have your blood tested more frequently.
Two Important Signs of High Cholesterol
Certain medical conditions and lifestyle factors play a role in whether or not you’ll develop high cholesterol.
1. Medical Conditions
A family history of high cholesterol can increase your heart disease and high cholesterol risk. Other underlying health problems can also play a role in whether or not you’ll develop high cholesterol levels like:
- Familial hypercholesterolemia
- Kidney disease
2. Lifestyle Factors
Most of the time, your risk of high cholesterol is directly affected by your lifestyle.
- Poor diet. A diet heavy in sodium and trans fat may lead to higher levels of unhealthy low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
- Obesity. If you are obese (defined as having a BMI over 30), you are at a higher risk of developing high cholesterol.
- Inactivity. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to levels of cholesterol that are not healthy and balanced.
- Age. High cholesterol is often thought of as an age-related illness, most common in adults over 40.
Other lifestyle factors, like smoking and alcohol use, may also cause your cholesterol levels to rise.
How Can I Support Healthy Cholesterol Levels?
Taking better care of yourself and getting a regular lipid panel can help you avoid high cholesterol or lower your cholesterol if your numbers are too high.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Avoiding excess sodium and trans fats can keep your cholesterol levels low. Increasing fiber intake can also help remove triglycerides from your bloodstream and work to balance your cholesterol.
Getting exercise helps protect your heart and your arteries. You need at least 150 minutes of moderate weekly exercise to help support healthy cholesterol levels.
Rethink Your Supplements
There’s no magic pill to fix your cholesterol. Even if your doctor places you on a statin, you’ll still need to maintain a healthy lifestyle to ensure your cholesterol levels stay healthy. A good supplement can help support your body and help you reach your cholesterol goals.
One of the most popular supplements recommended for cholesterol support is fish oil or omega-3 supplements.
What Is Omega-3?
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are liquid at room temperature. These fatty acids in supplement form are heavily marketed as “heart healthy” and essential. Essential fatty acids are fats our bodies need to function but cannot readily make themselves.
However, only one omega-3 fatty acid (ALA) is essential. The other omega-3s (EPA and DHA) aren’t “essential” fatty acids, yet practically every omega-3 supplement contains them.
In addition, only the purest, highest-quality EPA (that does not contain DHA) has actually been demonstrated to protect long-term health, specifically heart health, in adults.
What Are the Side Effects of Omega-3?
Even though omega-3 supplements may provide some benefits, they are have an important Achilles heel.
Because omega-3s exist as oils, they are prone to oxidation. When omega-3 supplements (like fish oil capsules) go rancid, they can become toxic to certain types of cells, including lung and blood vessel cells
Because omega-3 is found abundantly in fatty fish, it’s virtually impossible to find an omega-3 supplement that doesn’t leave you with a fishy aftertaste and fish burps.
It also takes a lot of omega-3 (between 2,000-3,000mg per day) for the supplement to be effective. But excessive consumption of omega-3 fatty acids could lead to adverse side effects, like:
- Low blood pressure
- Thinning of blood
- Excessive bleeding if an injury were to occur
- Increased risk of bruising
If you have high cholesterol, taking care of your cellular health is important to ensure you don’t develop problems associated with the hardening of blood vessels and arteries. Fortunately, there’s an easier (less fishy) way to support healthy cholesterol and triglyceride homeostasis.
What Is Fatty15?
Fatty15 is a fatty acid supplement that doesn’t come from fish, although its discovery did begin at sea.
While helping dolphins live healthier, longer lives,Dr. Stephanie Venn-Watson, a veterinary epidemiologist, discovered that some dolphins had fewer age-related illnesses than others.
Dr. Venn-Watson found that higher circulating levels of specific fatty acids were responsible for many health benefits in the healthiest dolphins. She went further, looking into the health benefits of these molecules in human populations, and three years later, she published her findings in Nature's Scientific Reports.
What fatty acids were responsible for the health benefits, you ask?
She identified a class of molecules called odd-chain saturated fatty acids (OCFAs) that were responsible for the health benefits seen in the healthiest dolphins. One of these OCFAs was C15:0, aka pentadecanoic acid, which has now become accepted as the first essential fatty acid to be discovered in over 90 years. Further, science now supports that C15:0 is better, broader, and safer for your cells than the purest, highest performing omega-3 (EPA).
C15:0 (the only ingredient in fatty15) naturally binds to receptors found throughout our bodies, called PPARs (pronounced pee-pars), that help to regulate our metabolism, including our cholesterol and glucose homeostasis.
This helps to explain why daily fatty15 supplementation helped to promote healthy cholesterol and triglyceride homeostasis.*
When compared to omega-3, fatty15 had 36 cellular benefits, while omega-3 only had 10.
Your health and wellness start in your cells, and fatty15 helps support your cellular health.* In clinical trials, fatty15 helped restore and repair 10 out of 12 cell-based systems studied, while omega-3 only safely repaired four of them.
Fatty15 was shown to benefit multiple cell types, including heart, joint, skin, red blood cells, and lung cells.*
Fatty15 contains just one ingredient, FA15, the pure, vegan-friendly, sustainably-produced, award-winning form of C15:0. As a pure powder, it isn’t subject to lipid peroxidation, which means unlike omega-3 and fish oil, you’ll never get a rancid bottle of fatty15. Additionally, only 100mg of fatty15 is needed daily to support your long-term health.*
At high levels, omega-3 killed 4 out of 12 cells studied. Fatty15 was safe for all 12 cell-based systems.*
The Supplement You Need, No Fishy Business
High cholesterol is a silent enemy. You won’t know you have it unless you have a blood test. Simple lifestyle changes can help you support healthier cholesterol levels.
With proper diet, exercise, and a science-backed, award-winning C15:0 supplement like fatty15, you can support your long-term health and wellness, without the fish burps.
How To Get Your Cholesterol Tested | American Heart Association
Physical Activity Guidelines, Get Active | National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Broader and safer clinically-relevant activities of pentadecanoic acid compared to omega-3: Evaluation of an emerging essential fatty acid across twelve primary human cell-based disease systems | PLOS ONE
Efficacy of dietary odd-chain saturated fatty acid pentadecanoic acid parallels broad associated health benefits in humans: could it be essential? | Scientific Reports
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
You May Also Like...
Everything You Need To Know About Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency
Medically reviewed by: Eric Venn-Watson, MD
We hear a lot about getting enough omega-3, so much so that many of us have decided to take an omega-3 supplement like fish oil.
While you swallow your...
Promoting Your Metabolic Health: A Focus on Pentadecanoic Acid's (C15:0) Benefits
Authored by: Stephanie Venn-Watson, DVM, MPH
When we think of our overall health, we can point to our heart and brain, and maybe our liver and spleen. But how many of us can point to our metabolism?...