The many hormonal changes during pregnancy cause cholesterol levels to increase between 30 and 50% concerning pre-pregnancy levels, especially from the second trimester and until delivery. Although having slightly elevated cholesterol during this stage is considered normal, it is essential to keep it under control to avoid the complications that this condition could cause. In this FastlyHealarticle, we explain in detail the causes and risks of high cholesterol in pregnancy, and we provide you with some recommendations to keep it under control during pregnancy.
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Average cholesterol values in pregnancy
During pregnancy, and especially from the second trimester until the end of pregnancy, it is normal for cholesterol levels to rise between 30 and 50% compared to pre-pregnancy levels.
The average value of total cholesterol outside of pregnancy should be below 200 mg / dL; a level higher than this indicates that it is time to take care of yourself, while if it is between 240 and 300 mg / dL, changes must be made immediately as it is considered very high. However, in the case of being pregnant, the levels in the second trimester can be around 250 mg / dL, even reaching close to 300 mg / dL during the last weeks of pregnancy.
Ideally, the levels should not exceed 300 mg / dL because, in that case, there could be various complications that could affect the baby, which is why taking utmost care of our diet is essential to avoid a condition that may present risks.
Causes of increased cholesterol in pregnancy
Although we usually associate cholesterol with something negative, we must not forget that it is essential to maintain the health and well-being of our bodies, especially during pregnancy.
There are two types of cholesterol:
- HDL: high-density cholesterol, known as good cholesterol, is produced naturally in the body and serves to collect cholesterol that is not used by our body and eliminate it through the liver.
- LDL: low-density cholesterol, known as bad, is that which is not eliminated naturally by our body, remaining accumulated in the walls of the arteries and the blood and causing problems in our health. This type of cholesterol should always be kept at adequate levels.
Cholesterol is essential for many bodily processes, but during pregnancy, it is necessary because it intervenes in the manufacture of steroid hormones such as progesterone or estrogen; necessary in pregnancy, but it is also required for:
- The formation of cells that allow the growth and development of the fetus.
- The production of vitamin D and bile acids.
- The story of neurological functions.
As a new life grows inside you, the formation of the baby will require more cholesterol; for this reason, the mother’s blood thickens, and this lipid increases in the body. However, it is essential to be vigilant since its excessive increase can also cause complications in pregnancy that could put the health of the baby and the mother at risk.
Risks of increased cholesterol in pregnancy
Especially during the last weeks, it is normal for cholesterol to increase significantly. However, it is not recommended that it exceed 300 mg / dL, or there could be certain conditions that can affect the health of the mother and the baby.
Some of the risks of high cholesterol in pregnancy are:
- Preterm deliveries that occur before week 37.
- Various alterations in the placenta.
- Injury to the blood vessels of the fetus.
- If you also have high blood pressure in pregnancy, you risk suffering from pre-eclampsia.
It is essential to take care of consuming foods rich in fat during pregnancy to avoid their excessive increase. If your obstetrician detects that the level of lipids is very high, they may refer you to an endocrinologist to carry out the follow-up and the necessary adjustments that can help you lower it. Additionally, there are general recommendations to keep it at the appropriate levels.
How to control cholesterol in pregnancy?
Taking care of the diet during pregnancy is essential to maintain your health and that of the baby, offering the necessary nutrients but without exceeding the intake of foods that can be harmful. To lower cholesterol in pregnancy, it is recommended:
- Consume in moderation animal products rich in saturated fat such as very fatty meats, butter, whole milk, or aged cheeses. Instead, opt for lean meats like chicken, turkey, and some cuts of pork and beef, avoid whole milk, opt for skim or plant-based drinks, and prefer fresh cheeses.
- Reduce the intake of fried foods and junk food, as they are high in fat that can increase cholesterol. It prefers baked, cooked, steamed, or grilled preparations.
- Increase the intake of fiber in your diet as these foods help reduce the presence of fat and sugar in the body and make us feel satiated for longer. Whole grains, legumes such as lentils, soybeans or chickpeas, fruits, and green leafy vegetables cannot be missing from your meals.
- Give your body a good portion of healthy fats such as those contained in oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines) in olive oil or nuts without added salt or sugar.
- If your doctor does not stop you, you must do physical activity. It is recommended to walk at least 30 minutes a day to keep our body in good condition and reduce the presence of cholesterol or high blood pressure.
- Go to all your prenatal consultations and closely follow your doctor’s instructions, which will be vital to guarantee your health and well-being and that of your baby.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to High Cholesterol in Pregnancy: Causes and Risks, we recommend that you enter our Blood, Heart, and Circulation category.
I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.