Cholesterol is a waxy,
fat-like substance that is made in the body by the liver. Cholesterol
forms part of every cell in the body and serves a number of vital
Sometimes, however, our
bodies make more cholesterol than we need, and this excess cholesterol
circulates in the bloodstream. High levels of cholesterol in the blood can
clog blood vessels and increase the risk for heart disease and stroke.
Our bodies make too
much cholesterol when we eat too much saturated fat in our diet. Saturated
fat is the kind of fat found in animal-based foods such as meat and dairy
We also get some cholesterol
directly from animal-based foods in our diet such as meat, eggs,
and dairy products. Plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains do
not contain cholesterol. Due to the high saturated fat content of the
average diet, more than one-half of American adults have blood cholesterol
levels that are too high.
Fortunately, most people can
bring down their blood cholesterol levels without medication by changing
their diet and by becoming more active. It's worth remembering that for
every 1 percent you lower your blood cholesterol level, you reduce your
risk for heart disease by 2 percent. Furthermore, lowering cholesterol can
help prevent heart attacks even if you already have heart disease.
Types Of Cholesterol
are 2 basic types of cholesterol:
(or LDL) cholesterol is a bad type of cholesterol that is most likely
to clog blood vessels, increasing your risk for heart disease. A diet
high in saturated fat is a major dietary cause of raised LDL
(or HDL) cholesterol is a good type of cholesterol. HDL cholesterol
helps clear the LDL cholesterol out of the blood and reduces your risk
for heart disease. A diet rich in fruit and vegetables, with
appropriate levels of omega-3/fish oil can help raise HDL cholesterol
What Causes High Blood
Several factors contribute
to high blood cholesterol levels. Some of these cholesterol-risk factors
are within your control, while some are not.
Cholesterol & Genetics
To some extent, your genes
determine your cholesterol level. Some people inherit a condition called
familial hypercholesterolemia, meaning, very high cholesterol levels run
in the family. Other people, especially those with a family history of
diabetes, inherit high triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are another type
of blood fat that can also push up cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol & Diet
Eating too much saturated
dietary fat (the kind found in high-fat meats and dairy products) and
cholesterol can cause your body to make more cholesterol, raising your
blood cholesterol levels. You can lower your cholesterol level by
switching to a lower-fat diet thus reducing intake of animal fat and other
fats and eating foods rich in starch and fiber, such as fresh fruits,
vegetables, and whole grains.
Cholesterol & Exercise
Regular exercise not only
reduces total blood cholesterol, but it lowers the bad kind of cholesterol
(LDL cholesterol) while raising the good kind of cholesterol (HDL
cholesterol). With improved diet, exercise helps to reduce weight/obesity,
another cholesterol-risk factor.
Being overweight contributes
to rising blood cholesterol levels. Conversely, following an effective
weight loss diet and losing weight can help reduce cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol, Smoking &
Smoking is an important
risk-factor for raised blood cholesterol levels and heart disease.
Meanwhile, women get a natural boost in their HDL cholesterol (the good
kind of cholesterol) from their hormones until they reach menopause. After
menopause, taking estrogen can help maintain higher HDL cholesterol
High and Low Cholesterol
Risk for heart disease and
stroke increases with rising blood cholesterol levels. As blood
cholesterol exceeds 220 ml/dl (milligrams per deciliter-the units used to
measure blood cholesterol in the United States), risk for heart disease
increases at a more rapid rate.
If your blood cholesterol
Below 180 - your blood
cholesterol level is ideal.
180-199 - your blood
cholesterol level is acceptable.
200-219 - your blood
cholesterol level is borderline high.
220 or higher - your
blood cholesterol level is too high
If your total blood
cholesterol level is greater than 200 (and especially if it is over 220),
you should have another test to determine the individual levels of LDL
cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Loss and Cholesterol Lowering
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diet and drugs. However the study made clear that a low-fat
these diet guidelines to help control your cholesterol: · Adjust the
Cholesterol-Low Triglyceride Diet
For Low-Cholesterol and Low-Triglyceride Diet.