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What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance that occurs naturally in all parts of the body and that your body needs to function normally. It is present in cell walls or membranes everywhere in the body, including the brain, nerves, muscle, skin, liver, intestines and heart. Your body uses cholesterol to form many hormones, Vitamin D and the bile acids that help to digest fat. It takes only a small amount of cholesterol to meet these needs. With too much cholesterol, the excess is stored in the arteries, including the coronary arteries, where it contributes to the narrowing and blockages that cause the signs and symptoms of heart disease.


What is HDL cholesterol?

HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein and is otherwise known as the "good cholesterol". It is a cholesterol carrying protein in the blood, which is thought to retard the formation of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Its function is to remove and carry away fatty deposits from the walls of the blood vessels and take it to the liver where it is eliminated. The current recommendation is for your HDL level to be 40 or greater.


How do I increase my HDL level?

HDL's can be positively impacted through regular cardiovascular exercise. Heredity also plays a role. Smoking can have a negative impact on HDL's because it causes the blood to thicken.


What is LDL cholesterol?

LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein and is otherwise known as "bad cholesterol". It is the cholesterol carrying protein in the blood that is implicated in the deposits that thicken the walls of the blood vessels. The current recommendation is below 130. There is s strong correlation of increased heart attacks and heart disease with high levels of LDL's.


How do I lower my LDL level?

LDL's are negatively impacted through a high-fat diet and heredity.


What are Triglycerides?

Triglycerides in the blood are derived from fats eaten in foods or made in the body from other energy sources like carbohydrates. Calories ingested in a meal and not used immediately by tissues and converted to triglycerides and transported to fat cells to be stored. Hormones regulate the release of triglycerides from fat tissue so they meet the body's needs for energy between meals


How is an excess of triglycerides harmful?

Excess triglycerides in the blood are called hypertriglyceridemia. It is linked to the occurrence of coronary disease in some people. Elevated triglycerides might be an occurrence of other disease, such as untreated diabetes. These measurements can be done through a simple blood test, and should be done after an overnight fast of food and alcohol.

    TRIGLYCERIDES
Normal
  Less than 150 mg/dl
Borderline high
  150-199 mg/dl
High
  200-499 mg/dl
Very high
  500 or greater mg/dl


How do I lower my triglycerides?
  • If overweight, cut down on calories to reach ideal body weight. This includes all sources of calories, from fats, carbohydrates, protein and alcohol.
  • Reduce saturated fat and cholesterol from diet.
  • Reduce intake of alcohol considerably.
  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes on most days of each week.
  • Substitute fish high in omega-3 fatty acids instead of meats high in saturated fat such as hamburger. Fatty fish like mackerel, sardines, herring, albacore tuna and salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • People with high triglcerides should substitute monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats - those liquid at room temperature (canola oil, olive oil or liquid margarine) for saturated fats. Substituting carbohydrates for fats may raise triglyceride levels and decrease HDL (good cholesterol) levels in some people.

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