Before looking at how cholesterol can be lowered, it is important to understand what it is. Cholesterol is actually produced by the liver and is a fat-like waxy substance. When the body has too much cholesterol, it is harmful. However, cholesterol can help your overall health and body function. You see, every cell within the body is formed to varying degrees from cholesterol. When cholesterol levels become elevated, it can be dangerous but when maintained at appropriate levels, cholesterol plays a vital role in many body functions.
Cholesterol works to build and repair cells. In addition, cholesterol produces hormones to include estrogen and testosterone, as well as bile acids that have proven to aid in the digestion of fat. Along with other types of fat, cholesterol cannot be dissolved in the blood. Therefore, for cholesterol to travel to and from cells, it must be carried by lipoproteins. If a person has too much cholesterol in the body, levels build-up in the blood, causing clogs. This in turn raises the risk for heart disease and/or stroke.
Some cholesterol is produced in the body while eating saturated foods made from animal-based foods such as dairy meat, eggs, which are the primary components that elevate cholesterol. Therefore, foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains do not contain cholesterol. Today, more than 50% of all adult Americans have high cholesterol to some degree or another. That means the potential for having a heart attack and/or stroke is something very real for millions of people.
Cholesterol is broken down into two types. Low-density Lipoprotein, “LDL”, which is the “bad” type of cholesterol and High-density Lipoprotein, “HDL”, which is “good” cholesterol. The good news is that you have a number of ways to reduce cholesterol levels. In fact, for every 1% you lower your cholesterol level, the chance of having a heart attack and/or stroke is reduced by 2%. Therefore, check with your doctor to determine your level and if elevated, begin eating a healthy diet low in saturated foods and exercise. In addition, your doctor might consider putting you on medication until the levels are within a normal range.