A Guide to Cholesterol – Heart Healthy Foods

by admin on June 9, 2010

What is Cholesterol, exactly?

Cholesterol, you hear the word all the time, but what does it really mean and why should you care? Cholesterol is a waxy fatlike substance found in the blood stream and in cells throughout the body. Because it often has negative connotations you may think all cholesterol is bad,  but in fact this naturally occurring substance plays a critical role in the formation of cell membranes and the manufacturing of hormones. But you only need a small amount of cholesterol to carry out these functions. So when too much cholesterol is present in your body, it becomes a health risk. To understand this more fully, let’s look at how cholesterol works. Cholesterol doesn’t dissolve in the blood stream, instead, it’s transported in and out of cells by carriers called low density lipo proteins or LDL and high density lipo proteins or HDL. When the amount of cells in the blood stream increases, the body needs to create additional lipo proteins to transport them. LDL is known as bad cholesterol. Too much of it results in plaque buildup on the arterial walls. This condition, known as atherosclerosis hardens and clogs the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. HDL on the other hand, has been known as good cholesterol because it adds in the removal of good cholesterol from the body – carrying it away from the arteries to the liver where it’s passed out of the body. Determining your cholesterol level can be done with a simple blood test. The normal level of the cholesterol in any individual depends on their age, weight, and sex. Typically though, an LDL level above one hundred and sixty is considered high. Similarly, an HDL level below forty is usually too low. Both high LDL levels and low HDL levels can put you at risk for plaque buildup. About seventy-five percent of the cholesterol in the blood is made by your liver and other cells in your body. The other twenty-five percent comes from the food you eat. Cholesterol is found in animal products like meat, eggs, poultry, and liver – which is a particularly high source. This is why eating less saturated fat from animals is a good first step from lowering your cholesterol to a healthy level.

Managing Cholesterol Levels is Very Important

High cholesterol can be a big risk factor for both heart disease and stroke. Managing your levels is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. If you think you may have high cholesterol, or if you have a family history of the condition, please see your doctor for a test.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: