We often hear about foods that are high in cholesterol and how we should be careful consuming them. If you check the nutritional facts on food products you buy, probabilities are cholesterol will be included; hence, we need to know what cholesterol is and why it has such a bad reputation.

Cholesterol is crucial for our bodies to function properly. It is a waxy substance produced naturally by our bodies, for the most part in our livers. In every cell, cholesterol can be found, and is essential when it comes to producing hormones, generating vitamin D, and digesting food. Overall, cholesterol is important to maintain good health; while our bodies can make it, cholesterol can also be found in the foods we consume.

The problem occurs when people have high levels of cholesterol in their blood stream; it is widely known that high levels of cholesterol are related to the development of coronary heart disease. This is caused by the formation of plaques that can attach themselves to artery walls; thus, narrowing the blood stream channels. The narrower the arteries are, the higher the risk of health problems; heart attacks are caused by the narrowing of arteries supplying the heart, and brain strokes are caused by the narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the brain.

Cholesterol is two types: LDL and HDL. LDL stands for Low-Density Lipoproteins, which is usually labeled as the bad cholesterol; while HDL stands for High-Density Lipoproteins, usually known as the good cholesterol. Lipoproteins are what carry cholesterol around the body; as it is an oil-based substance, it needs a carrier to move through the bloodstream, which is water-based.

LDL cholesterol has been dubbed the villain because it is the one more likely to cause clogging of blood vessels, as it carries cholesterol away from the liver and into the bloodstream, where it can adhere to the walls of blood vessels. HDL cholesterol does the opposite; it carries the cholesterol back to the liver to be broken down, and as such, is not likely to cause clogging of blood vessels.

High LDL cholesterol levels can be caused due to dietary and lifestyle choices, where people eat a lot of processed foods high in saturated fats, and do not exercise; instead, leading pretty sedentary lives. Other people are affected by family genetics, where they are predisposed to have high levels of cholesterol or suffer from other health conditions that cause higher levels of cholesterol.

What to do if cholesterol levels are high?

In some cases, eating clean, healthy food and avoiding large amounts of processed foods can help quite a bit, as well as being active and exercising. Losing weight if one is carrying around a few extra kilos is also recommended. However, sometimes it takes medicine to help lower your cholesterol to manageable and healthier levels.

High cholesterol levels must be taken seriously and better life choices are needed in order to avoid further health complications down the line!

Check out the following short video on cholesterol:


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