Cholesterol 101

We often hear about the negative effects of cholesterol, but did you know that without cholesterol, our brain and some organs would not grow and work properly? In addition to the liver producing cholesterol for the body, cholesterol is also found in some foods, such as meat, eggs, butter, cheese, and milk.

And back to the negative effects of cholesterol, too much cholesterol in the blood can clog the arteries that move blood through the body. People with high cholesterol may need to take medicine to lower the amounts of cholesterol that are found in the blood. Too much cholesterol build-up over years might result in a heart attack that can damage the heart or a stroke that can damage the brain.

There are two types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL.

LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is the type most likely to clog a person’s arteries via plaque. Plaque keeps blood from flowing through the body properly. LDL cholesterol is the “bad cholesterol.”

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol doesn’t clog arteries. HDL cholesterol removes cholesterol from the blood vessels and carries it back to the liver, where it can be processed and sent out of the body. HDL is the “good cholesterol.”

As stated earlier, meat, eggs, butter, cheese, and milk each contain cholesterol. Foods without cholesterol include: fruit, vegetables, and grains. When eating foods that contain cholesterol keep moderation in mind. Many foods that contain cholesterol are also high in saturated and trans fats. These two kinds of fat can increase LDL cholesterol.

In addition to watching your consumption of foods that contain cholesterol, get plenty of exercise, watch your weight, and don’t smoke. Maintaining optimal health is easier when you keep these tips in mind.