September is National Cholesterol Awareness Month

September is National Happy Cat Month and National Chicken Month, but more importantly, it's National Cholesterol Awareness Month. Take a few moments to study up on this important health issue.

Cholesterol is a lipid, or fatty chemical compound, that is made in your liver from fatty foods that we eat. Your body produces cholesterol to provide your body's cells with the needed fluidity and flexibility to properly function. It is also one of the many substances needed to create several of the body's essential hormones. However, when there is too much cholesterol in the bloodstream, some will build up on the walls of the blood vessels, including those of the heart. Over time, this build-up can impede the flow of blood. A poor diet and lack of exercise can contribute to increased levels of cholesterol and lead to heart attack, stroke and other serious medical conditions. You need the right amount of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) for your body to function properly.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in the United States, and most Americans know someone touched by it. Half of American men and a third of women aged 40 years and over will develop CHD sometime in their lives. The good news is that people can prevent heart disease by controlling those risk factors that can be modified. By lowering risk factors – through exercise, reducing saturated fats and cholesterol-containing foods, quitting smoking, and reducing excess weight, people can minimize their risk of ever developing CHD.

Cholesterol does not dissolve into the bloodstream. It is transported to and from the cells by carriers called lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is what is called "bad” cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is known as "good" cholesterol. These, along with triglycerides and Lpcholesterol, comprise your total cholesterol count, as shown in a blood test that your doctor can give you.

Types of Cholesterol

Nearly a quarter to a third of blood cholesterol is carried by high-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL is called "good” cholesterol, due to the fact that higher levels of HDL appear to protect against heart attacks. Low levels of HDL can increase the risk of heart disease.

When too much LDL (bad) cholesterol is in the bloodstream, it can accumulate in the arteries that supply blood to the heart and brain. It may result in the formation of plaque, hard deposits that can constrict arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms in the bloodstream, it may be blocked in a narrowed artery, resulting in a heart attack or stroke.

Triglyceride is a type of fat that is made in the body. High levels of triglycerides may be due to being overweight or obese, lack of physical activity, cigarette smoking, excess consumption of alcohol or a diet excessively high in carbohydrates (over 60 percent of total calories). Those with elevated triglycerides frequently have a high total cholesterol level, with a high LDL level and a low HDL level.

Lp(a) is a genetic variation of LDL cholesterol. A higher level of Lp(a) is a major risk factor for the increase of fatty deposits in arteries. Lp(a) is not completely understood, but it could interact with substances found on the walls of the artery and add to the buildup of fatty deposits.

Causes

Heredity can cause a condition that results in low levels of good cholesterol. Bad genes can also cause an excess of bad cholesterol.

If your family history has a tendency toward high cholesterol, you are more likely to as well. If you grew up eating high cholesterol foods such as fried chicken, donuts and sweets like cake and pie, you will be more likely to adopt those eating habits into your adult years and have higher cholesterol. If your family ate more healthy meals you're likely to eat much the same way, resulting in more healthful cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol numbers also tend to increase with age in both of the sexes until around age 60 to 65.

Get The Numbers Down

Watch out for adding lots of salt, fat, butter and unhealthy oils in your family’s cooking. Helping your family switch to eating healthier foods -- more fruits and vegetables and baking instead of frying -- you can lower your own cholesterol levels as well as those of your loved ones.

Get off the couch. Half an hour of daily doctor-approved exercise should be an integral part of any serious cholesterol reduction plan. Moderate daily exercise such as hiking, dancing, walking or biking all have been shown to reduce bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Maintaining your ideal weight is important for good health, including maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Don't get overwhelmed if you have a lot of weight to lose; according to the Mayo Clinic even losing five pounds can reduce your cholesterol levels.

If you haven’t already, quit smoking. Smoking has many negative effects on health, including raising HDL cholesterol levels. Fortunately, the body is capable of reversing much of the damage from smoking, so investing the effort to stop is well worth it.

Get more information during National Cholesterol Awareness Month at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute http://hp2010.nhlbihin.net/cholmonth/

An excellent cholesterol supplement that include many important natural ingredients is Cholesterol Complete™ (click here to view). It’s a powerful all-natural formula that targets both types of cholesterol; LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). LDL is the cholesterol you should be most concerned with, it is the “bad” cholesterol that clogs arteries and raises blood pressure. HDL is the “good” cholesterol that helps remove LDL from the body. You’re supporting healthy cholesterol with 100% natural approach!

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