When you hear the word cholesterol, what is your immediate reaction, or what comes first in your mind? Many people worry when they hear the word cholesterol. They perceive it as something that is always bad for the health. It is always associated with heart problems like hypertension and heart attack. But what cholesterol really is what it does to our body and health.

Cholesterol Defined

Cholesterol is a kind of fat or lipid found in the bloodstream and almost all parts of the body. It is a soft waxy substance in the body ‘s cells. Cholesterol is very useful because it is a component in forming cell membranes, some hormones. It is also needed for other body functions. Many of this substance is produced naturally inside of our bodies and some are from the food that we eat.

Cholesterol is not really a dangerous substance but it is actually one of those substances that our body needs to keep us healthy. However, it should be understood that there are two kinds of which, the good and bad cholesterol.

The Good and Bad

Since cholesterol is a kind of fat, it can not be directly dissolved in the blood. This substance is carried into and from the cell by another substance called lipoproteins. High-density lipoproteins or HDL is the good ones. This kind protects the body from heart diseases because the cholesterol is carried away from the arteries where fats could build up. It is also believed to remove other cholesterol from the arteries. This kind of cholesterol, however, should be maintained and monitored, because low level of this can also increase the risk of heart problems.

Bad cholesterol is known as the low-density lipoproteins or LDL. This kind highly contributes to the build up of plaque in the inner walls of the arteries. High levels of both compounds in the blood causes major risk of coronary diseases that could lead to heart attack.

Sources of Cholesterol

Though LDL is primarily produced in the body, the cholesterol from our food intake still contributes a lot to the total cholesterol count. Seventy five percent of our body cholesterol is produced inside and the remaining 25 percent comes from food. Almost all food that we take in everyday contains cholesterol and many of these foods contain large amounts.

Topmost of the list of food that contains large amounts of cholesterol is a food familiar to all and could be bought in almost all fast food chains and restaurants. Chicken and egg contains the highest count. These two are followed by livers, sea foods and Thanksgiving Day favorite turkey.

Unknowingly, our body cholesterol is also affected by hereditary means. There are some genes inherited from our parents or even grandparents that cause the cholesterol in our body to be too much produced.

Cholesterol Levels

Everyone should monitor cholesterol count because too much or too low cholesterol in the body bring a lot of sickness. The cholesterol count includes both the good and bad, both those produced inside the body and those that are acquired from food intake.

Cholesterol counts are determined through a blood test. Each person has a unique physicality that is why an individual should consult a doctor to know the cholesterol count that should be maintained. It is recommended especially people ages 20 and older to have lipoprotein fasting and test at least once in every five years. Consult a doctor for necessary medical routine before your cholesterol would be tested. Usually, doctors ask their patients to go on 10 to 12 hour fasting, meaning no food or pills taken. This determines the exact amount of good and bad cholesterol present in your blood and cells.

There are a lot of misconceptions about cholesterol especially with the food in take that make self-diagnosing patients worry about their health. As such, the best option is consultation to experts and living a healthy lifestyle.

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