Cholesterol and Heart

It is important to maintain a healthy cholesterol level irrespective of your age. Coronary heart disease is the main cause of death in America. There are several contributing risk factors to heart disease and cholesterol is one of them that can be controlled. Not all cholesterol is bad, so a good understanding and knowledge of the facts about cholesterol can help you to live a healthier life.

Cholesterol is a fat-like, waxy substance found in the body’s cells and bloodstream. You can get cholesterol in two ways. Cholesterol is produced by your liver. It is also found in animal products with high saturated fat such as meat, seafood, poultry, and dairy products. Processed foods are another culprit as they contain trans-fatty acids that can raise cholesterol.

Cholesterol is essential to maintain healthy bodily functions such as producing bile that aids with digestion, protecting nerve fibers, building cell membranes, creating hormones, and synthesis of vitamin D. Too much of it, however, is not healthy for the body. It can clog our arteries, thus leading to heart attack or stroke.

There are two types of cholesterol, high density lipoproteins (HDL) and low density lipoproteins (LDL). HDL is also called the good cholesterol because it can protect the heart while LDL is the bad cholesterol because it can clog arteries. We need these 2 types of cholesterol in our bodies but in the right balance. The health concern of cholesterol refers to excessive amount of LDL and insufficient amount of HDL in the body.

Excessive LDL cholesterol in our bodies builds up in inner walls of arteries that supply the heart and brain. It forms a plague that clogs the arteries. A clot that blocks the blood flow to the heart or brain can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Why is HDL considered as good cholesterol? It carries the bad cholesterol, LDL from the arteries to the liver to be excreted from the body. As high level of HDL protects against heart disease, you want more of HDL than LDL in your body.

The link between cholesterol and heart disease has been established in numerous studies. High cholesterol level is a main risk for coronary heart disease. Cholesterol can be managed through a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, regular screening, weight control, medications, avoid smoking and drinking. A healthy diet and lifestyle can prevent and reduce your risk of developing heart attack, stroke and other diseases.

Copyright (c) 2006 Alvin Toh