Does high cholesterol run in your family? Cholesterol and Its Health Effects

HighCholesterolDoes high cholesterol run in your family? If it does, then chances are that it may become a health issue as you age.  It’s always good to have some information about what cholesterol is and how to manage it. It’s up to you and your healthcare provider to decide the best course of treatment, but ProHealth can help you find out your cholesterol levels with a simple blood test. Just to give you a little background, cholesterol is a waxy steroid of fat that is manufactured in the liver and intestines. It is used to produce hormones and cell membranes and is transported in the blood of all mammals. Cholesterol is also an important component for the manufacturing of bile acids, steroid hormones and Vitamin D. Although cholesterol is important and necessary for mammals, high levels in the blood can damage arteries and are potentially linked to heart disease.

There are three main components of cholesterol.

1. HDL (good cholesterol) is thought to carry cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver, where the body can eliminate it. It’s best for your HDL to be higher. You can increase your HDL by doing aerobic exercises like walking or biking for 20-30 minutes a day, and by increasing your intake of monounsaturated fats like canola and olive oil, avocados, and peanut butter.

2. LDL (bad cholesterol) is the type that builds up in your arteries. Together, with other substances, LDL forms plaque, which can restrict blood flow to your heart and brain. That’s why it’s important for your LDL to be lower. A few easy ways to lower your LDL are to increase your intake of soluble fibers such as whole grains like oats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and legumes. Not only will they lower your LDL, but will help to increase your HDL, as well. Adding black tea and cinnamon (not necessarily together) to your diet can be beneficial.

3. Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood. They’re produced in the liver and also come from food that you eat. High levels of triglycerides can contribute to the hardening and narrowing of arteries, making it harder for blood to flow. High triglycerides go hand in hand with high LDL levels and lower HDL levels. The steps you take to lower your LDL and increase your HDL will help to keep your triglycerides at appropriate levels for good health.

If you would like to have your cholesterol checked, stop by one of our convenient ProHealth offices for what’s called a “Lipid Profile”. The cost is only $26. Make sure that you don’t have anything to eat (water or black coffee are OK) for 9 to 12 hours prior to coming in, and we’ll be happy to help you and your healthcare provider keep you in good health.

“Cholesterol Meter Stock Image” by Stuart Miles provided by freedigitalphotos.net