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Cholesterol by Heather Buchheit

By at October 14, 2012 | 9:49 am | Print

Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance that, in large amounts, can lead to heart disease.  Our bodies need cholesterol for many things to properly function including hormone production, vitamin D creation, and assembly of substances that help to digest food.  Cholesterol is made in our body and also obtained from animal products we eat.  There typically are no symptoms of having high cholesterol but a simple blood test can be done to check the levels in your system.

There are different types of cholesterol.  High density lipoprotein (HDL) is the good cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) is known as the “bad” cholesterol.  HDL is good for your body because it takes excess cholesterol to the liver for removal from the body.  LDL is unhealthy because it leaves cholesterol fragments in the body and builds up in the arteries.  Appropriate levels of cholesterol in your lab results from a blood test should result in no more than 200 mg/dL for total cholesterol, below 100 mg/dL for LDL levels, and above 60 mg/dL for HDL levels to be considered healthy.

Having high cholesterol can mean that you have fatty deposits in your blood vessels which can lead to other serious health concerns such as a stroke or heart attack.  Combined with other substances in your blood cholesterol can create a plaque inside your arteries narrowing and hardening them.  Several factors can increase the risk of having high cholesterol including inactivity, diet choices, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Genetics may also put you in a predisposition for high cholesterol.   Treatment of high cholesterol can be relatively easy.  Many common options include exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, eating a healthy diet, and possibly medication.  Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in addition to limiting your sodium, trans fat, and alcohol intake is important in lowering your cholesterol levels.  A diet including foods such as omega-3 fatty acids which can be found in certain types of fish, high fiber foods like oatmeal, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, and plenty of vegetables and fruits can be helpful is lowering your cholesterol levels.

A common medication used to treat cholesterol is known as the statins.  This type of medication reduces the amount of cholesterol that is produced by the liver.  An easy way to tell how much cholesterol is in a given food is to simply check the label if you are unsure or if you are trying to keep your intake to a minimum.  Adults should have a blood test to check their cholesterol levels once every five years with no prior cholesterol problems.


Mayo Clinic –

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute –

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention –

American Heart Association –

Medline Plus –

Food and Drug Administration –

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  1. […] trans fatty acids, and fatty meats such as beef, lamb, and pork. You want to increase HDL’s (high-density lipoproteins) in your diet because HDLs job is to carry LDLs back to the liver. Orange juice and soy products […]

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