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What is Cholesterol? — an article on the Smart Living Network
March 19, 2010 at 12:45 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

What is Cholesterol?


Cholesterol can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. In one way, cholesterol is needed by the body to help it digest fat. Cholesterol also helps the body produce vitamin D and some essential hormones. The liver naturally produces enough cholesterol for our needs. Without Cholesterol the body would not be able to digest fats, and we would have serious problems. In another way, cholesterol can be our worst enemy. If we never ate anything with cholesterol in it, then everything would be fine. Unfortunately, many foods we eat also contain cholesterol. All food products from animal sources, including; eggs, milk, cheese, and meat contain cholesterol. Watching your cholesterol levels can make a huge impact on your health, and make you live longer. Everyone should know where cholesterol comes from and how it affects them.

What Causes High Cholesterol Levels?

Having high levels of cholesterol can lead to heart disease, stroke, and many other problems. A diet that is high in cholesterol is one of the leading causes. High cholesterol can also be caused by other factors, besides your diet. Obesity, your age and heredity can play a huge role in causing high cholesterol levels.

Why is High Cholesterol Bad?

When cholesterol enters your bloodstream, it is unable to travel alone, and attaches itself to a protein molecule. This forms a lipoprotein, which can either be a HDL, or high-density protein or a LDL, or low density protein. LDL cholesterol is referred to as being a "bad" and HDL as being a "good" form of cholesterol. Over time, high levels of LDL cholesterol can cause a buildup of protein on your artery walls. This disease is known as Atherosclerosis. Often times, this hardening of the arteries takes place in the heart, and leads to coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease will restrict blood flow to your body, and can eventually lead to a heart attack.

How do I Lower my Cholesterol?

Lowering your cholesterol can make you feel healthier, and add years to your life. Changing your diet can be one of the most important things we can do to lower our cholesterol, but it can also be one of the hardest. Giving up fried foods, hamburgers, and cheese could make someone go crazy! Eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains, along with avoiding trans fats, and saturated fat, is necessary for a healthy diet. Exercising is also important. It increases blood flow and helps to lower your cholesterol levels. Maintaining a proper diet, and exercise program can greatly help to lower you cholesterol levels. Sometimes, however, that alone is not enough to make an impact. There are many prescription drugs available to lower cholesterol. Unfortunately, many of them can have some serious side effects, and cause you harm.

Photo Credit: Nesster

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