Cholesterol is formed from two different sources, as it is both created in the liver and derived from the different foods that we consume. There are also two different forms of cholesterol, LDL and HDL. LDL cholesterol is considered to be the bad form of cholesterol because it has a tendency to build up inside the walls of arteries, which can lead to inflammation and the formation of clots, and eventually even heart disease. HDL cholesterol, however, helps to transport LDL bad cholesterol out from the blood vessels, and back into your liver where it can be processed properly and then eliminated. Both LDL and HDL cholesterol come together to form what is your total cholesterol count, along with your triglycerides. Generally, you should be aiming for a high HDL, and a low LDL in order to make your heart the healthiest.
For many people, genetics can easily be blamed for unhealthy cholesterol numbers. However, this is not always the case because many people also have unhealthy cholesterol numbers thanks to a diet which is high in saturated fat which is converted into cholesterol in the body. But for most people, it is actually a combination of both of these things which creates the unhealthy cholesterol level in their bodies.
When it comes to high in saturated fat foods, which cause your bad cholesterol level to rise, the typical suspects are foods which are high in animal fats, such as whole-milk dairy products, pork, lamb, veal and beef among others. There are also foods which are naturally high in cholesterol, such as the yolk of an egg, but it is still debatable whether this cholesterol is actually bad for you or not. Cutting back on these foods, or eliminating them from your diet all together is generally the recommended course of action if you are dealing with high cholesterol.
The process of lowering your blood cholesterol begins with diet modification. By lowering how much saturated fat you consume, and increasing the amount of soluble fiber foods you consume, you can reduce your cholesterol. Foods which are high in soluble fiber, like oatmeal, strawberries, citrus fruits, peas and Brussels sprouts can bind to the cholesterol which is present in your intestines, which helps the body excrete them. Additionally, these soluble fiber foods are also typically low in both fat and cholesterol, in addition to being packed with heaps of healthy nutrients and vitamins.
Another great way for you to begin the process of lowering your bad cholesterol levels is to lose a small amount of weight. 10 pounds is typically enough to start showing an improvement in your cholesterol level, because excess weight can significantly raise your LDL cholesterol level, and could possibly be lowering your HDL cholesterol as well.
Finally, if you are a smoker you should be aware of the fact that smoking can significantly reduce your HDL cholesterol level, so your heart health may be significantly boosted by quitting. Within a few weeks or months, you will notice that your HDL cholesterol level is rising, which will improve your cholesterol level and the health of your heart.
There are a variety of different ways to treat problems with high LDL cholesterol levels, and there are five different groups of drugs which are used to lower cholesterol levels. Typically, someone with high cholesterol will take one of these drugs from two of these different categories in order to achieve effective treatment.
Statins: These drugs help to prevent the liver from creating new cholesterol. Some of the drugs in this category include Atorvastatin, which is better known as Lipitor, Fluvastatin, which is better known as Lescol, Rosuvastatin which is better known as Crestor, and Simvastatin which is better known as Zocor.
Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors: These drugs help to prevent the absorption of cholesterol in your small intestines. Some of the drugs in this category include Ezetimibe, which is better known as Zetia, and Vytorin which combines Zetia with a statin Simvastatin fibrate like gemfibrozil or fenofibrate.
Bile Acid Binding Resins: These drugs work in the intestines in order to bind to cholesterol, aiding your body in the process of excreting it. Some of the drugs that are in this category include Cholestyramine, which is known as Questran and Prevalite, Colestipol which is better known as Colestid, and Colesevelam which is better known as WelChol.
Niacin: Niacin is a form of vitamin B, and it may work by decreasing the production of cholesterol in your liver, but it is not totally clear yet how therapeutic doses of Niacin actually reduce cholesterol. There are several brand names for this form of Niacin, including Niaspan and Advicor, which actually combines the Vitamin B Niacin with a statin called Lovastatin.
Because your cholesterol levels contribute so heavily to the health of your heart, it is imperative that you maintain health levels in order to live a long, healthy life. If you continue to maintain a high LDL bad cholesterol level, the heart of your health will deteriorate, and you will find years shaved off your life. Maintaining a healthy level of cholesterol is an easy task as long as you understand the impact that cholesterol has on your body and how you can control it. If you cannot control your blood cholesterol by yourself through exercise and proper nutrition, you should consult a doctor to find the right medication cocktail which will do the trick.