Did you know that your body actually needs cholesterol? Cholesterol is used to “make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods.” (1) The body is amazing. It makes all the cholesterol you actually need. But some of the foods we eat also contain cholesterol. That’s where we sometimes run into problems.
What exactly is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is actually a waxy, fatlike substance that travels through your bloodstream. (2) Sometimes, an excess amount of cholesterol can build up along the walls of your arteries, which in turn blocks blood flow.
Good and bad cholesterol
You may have heard about “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol.” The Cleveland Clinic does a great job of explaining the difference. Here’s what they say:
“Cholesterol can’t travel in the blood on its own. It’s carried by special proteins. Combinations of cholesterol and protein carriers are called “lipoproteins.” There are two types of lipoproteins:
- Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs, or “bad” cholesterol)
- High-density lipoproteins (HDLs, or “good” cholesterol)
Think of LDLs as delivery trucks and HDLs as garbage trucks. LDLs pick up cholesterol from the liver and deliver it to cells. HDLs remove excess cholesterol from the blood and take it to the liver. A person’s total cholesterol level is a combination of LDL and HDL cholesterol.” (3)
Lowering my cholesterol
There are several things you can do to help lower your LDL cholesterol levels, including eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, staying active with regular exercise, avoiding smoking, and limiting your alcohol intake. (4)
Medication may also be an option. Talk with your doctor here at Horizon Family Medical Group to determine whether adding a medication option to your treatment makes sense for your individual situation.