In the past few decades, cholesterol has often been discussed like it is some dirty word, and something we should avoid at all costs. While having too high of levels of one type of cholesterol is certainly bad for your health, cholesterol in and of itself isn’t all bad, and understanding a little more about these Lipoproteins can help you to make better and healthier choices.
Where Does Cholesterol Come From?
Most people believe that cholesterol comes from the food we eat, and while this is partly true, the whole story is that the largest percentage of cholesterol is made in our own bodies. 75% of the cholesterol we have is manufactured in the body, while 25% of cholesterol is consumed through the food we eat.
Cholesterol plays an important role in our health, and the problem arises when our LDL (low density lipoproteins) reaches such high levels, that our HDL (high density lipoproteins) are no longer able to keep the LDL levels in check.
When this happens, the LDL, with the help of another sticky substance called triglycerides, can begin to clog your arteries, resulting in the narrowing of the artery walls, which can result in high blood pressure, heart disease, and reduced blood flow to the body.
Unless you have periodic blood tests to determine your cholesterol levels, most people aren’t even aware they have a problem until they show signs of high blood pressure or have a heart attack.
Everyone over the age of 20 should be tested at least every 5 years to ensure that their cholesterol levels remain normal.
Causes Of High Cholesterol
The two main causes of high cholesterol are genetics and diet. Some families simply have a genetic disposition to having higher LDL levels than normal. In fact, diet and genetics are two of the risk factors for having high cholesterol.
The other two are being overweight and simply getting older. However, the good news is that high cholesterol can often be treated and prevented without medication.
What You Can Do To Keep Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels Down
There are several things that you can do to help keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels within normal limits. Here are a few suggestions that are known to help:
- Eating a diet that is high in fiber, low in carbohydrates (carbohydrates that are not immediately used by the body are turned into triglycerides), and low in saturated and trans fats.
- Regular exercise
- Maintaining a healthy weight
By living a healthy lifestyle and avoiding processed foods as much as possible, you can keep from consuming all those hidden sugars that manufacturers put into everything, from soups to desserts and everything in between.These hidden sugars are carbohydrates, and they are likely to be turned into triglycerides in your body and add excess weight to your body despite dieting.
Exercise is also important as it helps to promote a healthy blood flow throughout your body, as well as keeping your weight in check. There are diets that are specially designed to help lower cholesterol levels and keep you healthy, as well as a number of dietary supplements and herbs that may help as well.
If you haven’t had your cholesterol checked lately, ask your doctor to do so, and if those LDL levels seem to be climbing, ask your doctor for specific advice on what you can do to try and turn things around. People with other risks for heart disease, or who have high blood sugar levels, need to be even more vigilant in watching their cholesterol levels.
In some cases, where high cholesterol is caused by genetic factors, diet and exercise alone might not be enough, and medication may be indicated. If this is the case, then speak to your doctor about all the options available, and choose the one that you feel is right for you.
Do you suffer from high cholesterol? Do you battle to keep your cholesterol levels in check? Do you use prescription medication or alternative therapies?