How to Keep Your Cholesterol Healthy

Cholesterol, you might have heard of it, but do you know what it is and how important it is for our (heart) health? About 94 million Americans – age 20 or older – have cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dL and about a third of them have levels above 240 mg/dL. What is so harmful about this? High cholesterol can lead to heart disease and strokes. Which are the leading and fifth leading causes of death in the United States. The big question is, how do I know my cholesterol levels are too high, and when are they too high?

What Is Cholesterol, and What Does It Do to My Body?
To be honest: the cholesterol story can be a bit confusing because there is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, but when is it what and why is it so important for my body? Some kinds of cholesterol are indeed crucial for your health, these are called “good” cholesterol, also known as high-density lipoprotein or HDL, and lower the risk of heart disease or stroke. “Bad” cholesterol – also known as low-density lipoprotein or LDL – increase the risks.

In addition, cholesterol also makes hormones and cells. Cholesterol moves through the blood on lipoproteins. When there is too much cholesterol in the body, HDL makes sure the excess cholesterol is disposed of to the liver, after which the liver breaks it down and works it out of the body. In other words, HDL helps your arteries clear out the cholesterol you don’t need. When you’ve too much cholesterol in your body, it can enter the artery wall and form atherosclerotic plaque. This build-up is called atherosclerosis and leads to the narrowing of the veins. This prevents the blood from flowing properly or sufficiently through the body. What this can lead to, how to find out if you have a healthy cholesterol level and what you can do to lower cholesterol, you can all read on the next page.