Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is important

Maintaining healthy cholesterol and knowing your numbers is an important part of staying healthy. Cholesterol, as dangerous as it seems, is essential to our overall wellbeing. In fact, the liver primarily makes most of the cholesterol that the body needs for supporting necessary functions: contributing to the structure of cell walls, the production of digestive bile acids in the intestine that help digest food, allowing the body to produce vitamin D and enabling the body to make certain hormones.

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, cholesterol comes from two sources: the body and the food we eat. Dietary cholesterol is found in foods from animal sources, such as meats, liver and other organ meats, dairy foods, egg yolks and shellfish. When you consume a diet high in trans fat, saturated fat, simple carbohydrates or processed foods, the liver produces more cholesterol than needed, allowing it to circulate in the blood.

Cholesterol itself is not bad; it is just bad when there is too much of it in the bloodstream. At normal levels, cholesterol is a necessary substance for the human body. It is when the levels get too high that it becomes a silent danger, increasing chances of heart attack and heart disease.

Cholesterol is a waxy, oil-based substance that travels around the body in lipoproteins: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is the “bad” cholesterol, traveling to the arteries, potentially collecting along the vessel walls, forming plaque and reducing blood flow to the heart and muscles.

HDL is the “good” cholesterol, transporting excess cholesterol to the liver to be excreted.

Having high cholesterol may not produce symptoms. The only way to know is to get your cholesterol levels checked with a blood test by your doctor. Total cholesterol should be less than 200mg/dl, LDL should be less than 130mg/dl, and HDL should be greater than 40mg/dl.

While family history may be a risk factor for high cholesterol, the American Heart Association recommends keeping your cholesterol levels in a healthy range by reducing saturated fat intake, consuming more fruits, vegetables and high-fiber foods, exercising, reducing stress, not smoking, drinking water, eliminating sugar and limiting dietary cholesterol intake to less than 300mg a day.

Source: https://www.theitem.com/stories/maintaining-healthy-cholesterol-levels-is-important,341958

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