Cholesterol is a fat like steroid that circulates through the blood. At normal levels itâs not only not harmful, but necessary to help cell membranes maintain their integrity. It also helps the liver produce bile, vitamin D and some hormones. However, high levels of cholesterol can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Understanding cholesterol facts can help a person combat these high levels.
The Highs and Lows of Cholesterol Facts
There are basically two types of cholesterol. Bad cholesterol is LDL cholesterol. Too much LDL can block arteries and lead to heart disease. Good cholesterol, or HDL cholesterol, helps clear cholesterol away before it can clog the arteries and returns it to the liver. Doctors believe that high total blood cholesterol levels are risky, especially if the HDL level is low. Some recommend that total cholesterol levels remain below 200 mg/dl and that the HDL levels be high.
High cholesterol seems largely to be the result of a sedentary lifestyle and a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Saturated fats and high cholesterol are found in red meat, butter and other whole milk diary products, while saturated fats are found in hydrogenated oils, coconut oil and palm oil. Cholesterol is not found in vegetable oils because cholesterol is an animal product. Still, oils heavy in saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels, sometimes even more severely than foods with cholesterol.
Some people with high levels of cholesterol are genetically prone to the condition. These conditions are familial hypercholesterolemia or FH. In this disorder the liver doesnât have a receptor protein for LDL and so canât take it up. This causes the liver to keep manufacturing LDL. Hypothyroidism, or a low functioning thyroid, also raises the LDL levels and decreases the HDL levels.
Understanding Cholesterol Facts Leads to Optimal Health
A person who has high cholesterol can eat a healthful diet by eating less saturated fat and cholesterol. They should cut down on animal products and eat more fiber rich plants foods like vegetables, grains, fruits and beans. They should also lose weight, stop smoking and get regular exercise. However, sometimes lifestyle changes arenât enough to lower high cholesterol levels and the patient might turn to conventional drug therapy or natural supplements to help with their cholesterol.
One of the cholesterol facts is that supplements can help with high cholesterol. One supplement is Vitamin E, though vitamin E shouldn't be taken if the patient is taking anti-coagulant drugs. Other supplements that are good for lowering cholesterol levels are Vitamin C or inositol hexaniacinate, which is a form of niacin that doesnât cause the side effects of regular niacin. Red yeast rice is also helpful, as is gugulipid. Red yeast rice inhibits the body from making cholesterol and gugulipid allows the body to take up more LDL.
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