HOW CHOLESTEROL LEVELS PREDICT YOUR HEALTH
HOW CHOLESTEROL LEVELS PREDICT YOUR HEALTH
Cholesterol is a natural waxy, fatty material that exists in your cells and blood stream and helps to keeps your body working properly. The two main sources of cholesterol are the liver and your diet. The liver and other cells produce about 75% of your blood cholesterol; the rest comes from what you eat. Cholesterol is carried through the blood in the form of High-density lipoproteins (HDL) the “good cholesterol” and Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) the “bad cholesterol. HDL is produced by the body and carries cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver where it is broken down or expelled, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to the cells. It is known as the bad fat because it can clog the arteries with plaque (arthrosclerosis).
WHAT IT DOES & WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
Cholesterol is used in producing hormones released by the adrenal gland, androgen and estrogen. It is needed to produce bile acids that help to digest fat. Cholesterol is also needed to convert sunlight to vitamin D, it is important for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K. Cholesterol insulates the nerve fibers, builds and maintains cell membranes and determines which molecules are allowed in and which ones are not.
Triglycerides and cholesterol form blood fat. Triglycerides are a type of fat composed of three fatty acids and glycerol. It is the main part of vegetable oil and animal fat, your body also produces some naturally. Leftover calories from fat are turned into triglycerides and stored for later use. High blood levels of triglycerides are a strong indicator of an increased risk of heart disease.
METHODS OF CONTROL
Follow a low saturated fat, low cholesterol diet. Eat more fruit, vegetables and whole grains as well as leaner cuts of meat. Increase your physical activity, lose weight if needed. If you smoke, stop. Diet and exercise might not be enough especially if high cholesterol runs in your family. Your doctor may decide that statin medications might be beneficial if LDL levels are too high.
Statins are the most widely used medication for lowering cholesterol. It blocks the liver’s ability to make cholesterol. Lipitor and Crestor are some brand names available. Bile-acid-binding resins encourage your liver to make more bile acids that use up excess cholesterol. Some medications for this are Prevalite and Questran. Cholesterol absorption inhibitors limit the absorption of dietary cholesterol into the bloodstream. Zetia is one cholesterol blocker that can be combined with statin medication. Non-prescription products like Vasacor can provide improvements in both LDL and HDL levels, without the risks or expenses of prescription medications.
BENEFITS & RISKS
Plaque can build up on artery walls, narrowing them or sometimes blocking arteries becoming a major risk factor for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Cholesterol levels tend to rise as you get older and can be detected with a blood test. Studies done at Texas A & M University have shown that cholesterol levels affect strength and building muscle. The study shows that participants with higher cholesterol levels had a greater increase in strength and muscle mass over participants with lower levels. Participants on cholesterol lowering medication had lower levels than all participants. If you have stubbornly high cholesterol, or a family history of heart disease, statins may be needed, but should only be used as a last resort when simpler methods of cholesterol reduction have been tried.
HOW THIS AFFECTS MY CHOLESTEROL PROFILE
For most of us, a healthy diet and frequent exercise are the best way to keep our cholesterol in check. For those with less healthy lifestyles, or that have a genetic predisposition towards high cholesterol, natural products such as Vasacor are a wise choice to help lower cholesterol levels naturally. If you have tried everything else, but have consistently high cholesterol levels, it is wise to consult with your doctor about the potential to need prescription statin medications to ward of serious health problems in the future.