Cholesterol

November 5, 2016

Cholesterol is an important part of a healthy body.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like substance found in the bloodstream and in all the cells of the body. It’s an important part of a healthy body…but, too much in the blood is a major risk for coronary heart disease and for stroke.

Sources

Cholesterol comes from two sources: your body and food. Your liver and other cells in your body make about 75 percent of blood cholesterol. The other 25 percent comes from the foods you eat.

Types

LDL – Low-density lipoprotein is the “bad cholesterol.” Excess LDL builds up in your arteries and may lead to heart disease and stroke.
HDL – High-density lipoprotein is the “good cholesterol” because it removes the LDL from the blood. High levels of HDL in your blood may help to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Another form of fat made in the body is triglycerides. Calories ingested in a meal and not used immediately by tissues are converted to triglycerides and transported to fat cells to be stored.

Risk Factors

There are several factors that contribute to high cholesterol – some are controllable while others are not.

Controllable Risk Factors:

  • Diet
  • Weight
  • Physical Activity

Uncontrollable Risk Factors:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Family History

High cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

Management

Nutrition – Consume less than 300 mg per day of cholesterol, or less than 200 mg per day if you have heart disease. Foods high in saturated fat or trans fat can elevate blood cholesterol. Also, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish and flax seed, may help lower cholesterol. Eating 5-9 servings/day of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have shown to reduce your numbers.
Quit Smoking – Smoking lowers HDL levels, but the levels rebound after smoking has stopped.
Exercise – 30 minutes a day of at least moderate exercise increases HDL.
Take Medications as Prescribed – If diet and exercise aren’t enough, your physician may prescribe medication, especially if a family history is present.

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