Cholesterol: Watch Those Levels!

We often think we don’t have to worry about certain health concerns such as cholesterol. Most of the problems encountered later in life are the results of habits formed during youth. Start now to keep your LDL and HDL levels in check so that you can reduce the chances of developing heart disease or stroke later in life.

Known as a lipid (fat) that makes up the membranes of all cells within the body, it is derived from two sources: the food we eat and that which is manufactured in the liver. While we can’t control the amount of lipids produced by the body, we can, however, control what we take into our bodies.

Processed foods, meats, fish, and dairy products contain natural lipids When it is released from food, it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Here, it becomes a substance called “chylomicron” when it acquires a protein coating. The liver absorbs these chylomicrons from the blood. The liver also has the capability of producing lipids and secreting it back into the bloodstream between meals. It is not dangerous until there is too much of it circulating throughout the body.

Because the liver produces lipdis as well, not much more is needed from outside sources. Eating lean meats and low-fat or skim milk and cheeses reduces the amount that enters the body through food. Food full of saturated fats increases these levels in the blood.

Conversely, foods that contain mostly unsaturated fats leave less lipids in the body. Eating all of those fast food hamburgers, fries, and milkshakes is a surefire way to increase these levels in the blood.

There are two main types of cholesterol to be concerned about: High-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Which is better? High levels of LDL in the blood are considered “bad”. These lipoproteins leave deposits on arterial walls. It hardens into a waxy substance called plaque. Over time, the plaques narrow the lumen (opening) of the affected vessel leaving blood less space to flow freely. These plaques could break free from the walls of the arteries and lodge in a smaller vessel causing a stroke, heart attack, or pulmonary embolism.

High levels of HDL in the blood are considered “good”. These lipoproteins remove the bad lipids from arterial walls before they can form life-threatening plaques. These are returned to the liver. The arteries are kept free from anything that would hinder blood flow to the organs of the body.

The next time you have an annual physical,make sure to have your blood drawn for a lipids test. Keeping your cholesterol in check is important.

Here is another tip. Cod Liver Oil has been known to be effective in lowering cholesterol levels. To read more about it, click here: Cod Liver Oil