Dr. Frank's Anthem Dentist Blog

 

What is cholesterol?

What, exactly, is cholesterol? Well, it’s a sort of fatty, waxy stuff and your own liver produces it. It’s actually necessary for good health and it’s a part of every cell in your body!

There are several things that cholesterol helps our bodies to do:

  • Keep the cell wall healthy
  • Help the body produce enough vitamin D
  • Aid in digesting, by producing stomach acids to digest fat

We need cholesterol and we produce it in our own bodies, so it’s obviously important. You also get some from certain foods, notably from animals, like meat or dairy. Fruit and vegetables contain no cholesterol at all. When the body produces too much cholesterol it sits in the blood stream and eventually it can block up your blood vessels. That increases your risk of heart diseases and the ‘silent killer’, stroke.

So why are foods high in cholesterol so bad?

If you eat a lot of animal fats – also called saturated fats -your body can produce too much cholesterol. And a high cholestrol level should not be ignored. Now there are various types of cholesterol and they each have a different role to play in your health.

The ‘bad’ cholesterol is called LDL, which stands for Low Density Lipoprotein. This is the one that can increase your chances of getting heart disease by clogging up your arteries. When that happens blood flow through the artery is reduced.

The ‘good’ cholesterol is called HDL. This is the opposite, so it’s High Density Lipoprotein. This actually ‘sweeps up’ the ‘bad’ cholesterol from your blood stream. Which means it’s important to know your cholesterol ratio to know whether you have a normal cholesterol level.

If you monitor your cholesterol regularly you will know when you have high cholesterol. And if you do have high cholesterol levels it makes sense to reduce your LDL cholesterol if you can. And if your levels are high you should do it as soon as possible.

Considering that it’s been estimated that about 50% of Americans have high cholesterol levels, it’s wise for everyone to get their level tested and do something about it.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before starting any new treatment or making any changes to existing treatment. No health information on this site, including information about herbal therapies and other dietary supplements, is regulated or evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and therefore the information should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a medical doctor.

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