One of the major risk factors for heart disease is high total blood cholesterol. Blood cholesterol is found in every body cell. It is a major component of all cell membranes and is used to make essential molecules such as hormones, fat-soluble vitamins, and bile acids to help with digestion. It is made in the liver and has many important functions such as keeping the walls of your cells flexible and is also needed to make several hormones.
Molecules called lipoproteins transport cholesterol, fat and fat-soluble vitamins in the blood. There are three different types of lipoproteins containing triglycerides.
The two lipoproteins that we are most familiar with are HDL (high-density lipoproteins or good cholesterol) and LDL (low-density lipoproteins or bad cholesterol).
High levels of HDL are considered good. The HDL removes LDL from the bloodstream and carries it back to the liver where it is processed and sent out of the body.
High levels of LDL can result in cholesterol deposits in blood vessel walls. This can lead to clogged arteries, strokes, heart attacks, and kidney failure.
The third one is VLDL (very low-density lipoproteins or bad cholesterol). It builds up plaque in the arteries and increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Dietary cholesterol is found in animal products such as meat, eggs, seafood, and dairy products. There is no cholesterol in plant-based foods. Dietary cholesterol doesn’t necessarily increase blood cholesterol.
Blood cholesterol is increased by trans fats, saturated fats and certain carbohydrates such as added sugars and sweetened beverages. To decrease the risk of heart disease and blood cholesterol, watch your overall intake of fats and carbohydrates.
Here are some ways to lower cholesterol: