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We hear a lot about lowering our cholesterol, but did you know that your body actually needs some type of cholesterol? Maybe you’ve heard of the good cholesterol vs. the bad cholesterol?

Here’s the scoop: Cholesterol is used to “make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods.” Your body is actually quite amazing. For example, did you know it makes all the cholesterol you actually need? Think good cholesterol here. Problem is, some of the foods we eat also contain cholesterol.

Cholesterol 101

Cholesterol is a waxy, fatlike substance that travels through your bloodstream. Sometimes, an excess amount of cholesterol can build up along the walls of your arteries, which in turn, blocks blood flow.

cholesterol infographic image

Good vs. 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.”

How to lower your cholesterol levels

You can do several things 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.

Your healthcare provider here at Horizon Family Medical Group may also recommend medication. Together, you can determine whether adding a medication option to your treatment makes sense for your individual situation.