National Cholesterol Awareness Month

                Cholesterol is a natural wax like substance that is both beneficial and harmful to the body if too much or too little is produced. Cholesterol is used to build cells throughout the body and is produced by the liver. Cholesterol is also obtained through eating animal-base foods that are high in saturated and trans fat such as meat, poultry, and full-fat dairy products. Cholesterol is also obtained through plant-base oils such as palm, palm kernel, and coconut which are all used in everyday baking. These foods and oils work with the liver as a team to then produce more cholesterol.

                When discussing cholesterol you will run into the terms LDL and HDL cholesterols. LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins) is considered the bad cholesterol and HDL cholesterol (high-density cholesterol) would then be considered the good cholesterol however they both work together to keep the cholesterol levels balanced and too much or too little of either one can result in health problems. Hypercholesterolemia is the term that is used when the body has too much of the LDL cholesterol and Hypocholesterolemia is when the body doesn’t have enough of the LDL cholesterol, which isn’t as common. Then there is Hyperlipidemia which is when there is too many lipids, triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood stream.

                When treating hypercholesterolemia on your own keep in mind that you may feel no symptoms and that the doctor’s recommendation is to get regularly blood tested every four to six years starting at the age of twenty. In order to treat or prevent high cholesterol it is recommended to maintain a heart-healthy diet by eating foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and foods high in fiber. Having a high fiber diet can lower cholesterol levels by as much as ten percent. It is also advised to limit yourself to five or six percent of saturated fat in your daily calorie intake, which can really be beneficial to your health. Another recommendation is weight loss and proper exercising which also plays a big role when lowering cholesterol.

     Hypocholesterolemia only affects about five percent of the general population and is usually inherited or obtained due to several secondary causes. Some of the causes of hypocholesterolemia could be an overactive thyroid gland, statin medications, liver disease, celiac disease, adrenal insufficiency, and malnutrition. Even smoking can play a major role when having hypocholesterolemia because it has been determined that smoking can lower your HDL cholesterol levels.

                Without treating your cholesterol problem you may end up with a worse condition such as coronary artery disease or even have a heart attack or stroke. With the help of other bodily substances cholesterol can form a thick and hard deposits. This is called atherosclerosis, which narrows the arteries making them less flexible and more prone to blockage and clot formation which can then lead to a heart attack or stroke. Having high blood pressure or Diabetes can also increase those heart risks.

                It is important to have your cholesterol levels checked regularly with your primary care physician to treat and prevent any further health complications. Make sure you are proactive for Cholesterol Awareness month.