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  • Writer's pictureBobby Banahan

Why You Need to Know Your Numbers

The word cholesterol is used all over the food and medicine industries and can be quite intimidating. Advice regarding cholesterol is all over the internet, but what exactly does it mean? What exactly is cholesterol and its impact on the body? It’s important to know the answers to these questions so you can be proactive with your health and make good choices.

The Basics

Cholesterol is a waxy type of fat found in the blood that circulates through the body. While the media may have given cholesterol a bad name, it isn’t inherently bad, in fact your body needs it to build cells, make hormones, and help your metabolism work efficiently. What isn’t commonly known is that there are two different types of cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL is sometimes called the “bad” cholesterol while HDL is referred to as the “good” cholesterol. Foods that raise your LDL or bad cholesterol levels include butter, ghee, and fatty meat products or other foods that are high in saturated fats. Some examples of foods that are a source of good cholesterol are avocado, olive oil, and nuts.

Why Cholesterol is Important

Cholesterol buildup alone is not ideal but it can also combine with other substances to form deposits on the insides of arteries. Deposits of cholesterol plaque on arterial walls can cause obstruction of blood flow which may rupture and cause the artery to be blocked, a condition called atherosclerosis . Strokes and heart attacks could also be provoked by high levels of cholesterol as well. High cholesterol itself doesn’t typically cause symptoms on its own but can lead to emergency events. Due to this it is important to be aware of what your current cholesterol blood levels are, which can be known by doing a blood test.

How can I Monitor my Cholesterol and What Should I Look For?

The American Heart Association recommends that all adults 20 or older have their cholesterol checked every four to six years. Primary care physicians typically carry out cholesterol tests and will be able to explain possible treatment options and cardiovascular health concerns to you. Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and there are different healthy ranges depending on type of cholesterol, age, and biological sex.

Anyone Age 19 Or Older:

Men Age 20 Or Older:

Women Age 20 Or Older:

The word cholesterol might trigger alarm bells in your head, but it doesn’t need to be a scary topic! There are many options for controlling cholesterol. The most important thing is that you are educated about what your numbers are, what they mean, and what you need to do about them.If your cholesterol test results are less than satisfactory it isn’t the end of the world! There are lifestyle changes and drug treatments to manage high cholesterol. Heart healthy eating is incredibly important to manage cholesterol as well as weight management. Even managing stress can be beneficial to your cholesterol levels. For tips about maneuvering high stress look at our stress article from earlier this month! Drug treatment is usually added only if lifestyle changes alone do not fix cholesterol levels. There are many different kinds of cholesterol medicines available and they function in many different ways. Always ask your doctor about what options will be best for you.


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