Understanding Cholesterol and Heart Health

You probably know that it’s important to maintain your cholesterol levels, but you may not understand why. What exactly is cholesterol anyways, and why is too much bad for your heart? Various statistics and figures about cholesterol make it hard to separate fact from fiction, but don’t fret because we have a breakdown of all things cholesterol to help you understand what it’s really all about.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver and other cells in the body. It is also found in some foods and animal products we consume. Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol is not always bad. In fact, some cholesterol is vital for essential bodily functions, from building and maintaining cell membranes to converting sunshine into Vitamin D.

Why it’s Important to Track Your Cholesterol.

Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is vital to heart health. If too much cholesterol builds up in the body, plaque will accumulate in the arteries and narrow the space allowed for blood to flow to the heart. This narrowing can lead to heart disease and even a stroke or heart attack. If you want to live a long and healthy life, it is important to keep tabs on your cholesterol levels.

The Difference Between Good and Bad Cholesterol.

Believe it or not, there are both good and bad kinds of cholesterol, and it is important to balance the two. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is considered bad cholesterol. High levels of LDL lead to a buildup of plaque on the walls of the arteries. The more LDL a person has in their body, the greater their risk for developing heart disease or having a stroke. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is good cholesterol and helps reduce LDL cholesterol in the body. Increasing HDL levels will reduce one’s risk of developing heart disease.

Maintaining Healthy Cholesterol Levels.

Some people are genetically inclined to have high cholesterol levels. Age, gender, and certain medical conditions can also increase risk. While these factors cannot be changed or prevented, there are still ways you can lower your cholesterol substantially. Consuming a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and adopting a regular exercise routine are great ways to sustain healthy cholesterol levels. Limit foods high in saturated fat and complete at least 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise per day to begin shedding some pounds.

If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels or would like more information about any of our services, locate the YourTown Healthoffice in your area and give them a call today.