We all know that having high cholesterol is bad for you, but what exactly does that mean? How do cholesterol levels impact your health and what can you do to make sure your cholesterol stays at a healthy level? Educating yourself about cholesterol and the risks of heart disease can help you lower your risk for the future and prevent life threatening diseases. We are dedicated to helping spread the word about prevention care and taking care of your heart.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a natural substance, made up fatty, waxy materials. It is produced in several paces in your body, but the primary production center is in your liver. A certain enzyme helps to produce cholesterol here and is then circulated throughout your body in the bloodstream. You also receive cholesterol through your digestive system. We absorb cholesterol through certain foods made from animal products, usually meat, eggs, milk and/or cheese. Although cholesterol usually has a bad reputation, a certain amount in your body is necessary to keep you functioning normally. It helps to build cell walls, digest fats, even to produce essential natural hormones. However, too much cholesterol can lead to serious health problems. When there is overproduction of cholesterol, the waxy substance begins to build up in your system and starts to block arteries and lead to other dangerous health conditions.
Is Cholesterol Bad for You?
The answer is both yes and no. Our bodies need cholesterol to survive and to function properly, but to much can work against us. Additionally, there are different types of cholesterol that exist, and they affect us in different ways. Cholesterol moves throughout your bloodstream by attaching to proteins. When these two substances are together, its referred to as a lipoprotein. The ratio between protein and fat determines whether these are high density lipoprotiens (HDL) or low density lipoproteins (LDL). The main problem with cholesterol is when too much is traveling in your bloodstream, the lipoproteins leave behind fatty, waxy deposits on the walls of your arteries. These “plaque” deposits can build up over time and start to block the blood flow. In miniscule deposits, the effect is negligible, but as they build up, blocked arteries can lead to serious complications such as heart attack, stroke, or heart disease.
High Density Lipoproteins (HDL).
HDL is sometimes referred to as “good” cholesterol. This type of cholesterol actually helps to clear out bad cholesterol in your system and keep them at a healthy level. When LDL is high and HDL is low, then you are at a reduced risk for serious heart complications.
Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL).
LDL is what’s known as “bad” cholesterol. This kind of cholesterol has a much higher opportunity to leave behind plaques (fatty deposits) on the walls of your arteries. As these deposits build up, the risk increases of blocked arteries and further heart complications, such as heart disease.
Very Low Density Lipoprotieins (VLDL).
Much likem LDLs, VLDLs are mostly fat and very little protein. They have a high risk of blocking arteries. Triglycerides. Triglycerides are the result of digesting excess calories or sugar that are not being used by your body. They can be carried in your blood stream by attaching to LDLs.
Taking statins can help to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol in your system and increase the production of “good” HDL cholesterol.