What is It and Where It Hides

One of my favorite foods is a Bacon Cheese Burger.  Big and juicy with lots of bacon.  I can feel my mouth start to water already.  But besides being delicious, it is full of cholesterol.

Cholesterol - we have all heard of it and that too much is bad but do you really know what it is or why you need to avoid too much of it?

Basically it is a product created by your liver but it is also found in some of the food you eat. Cholesterol helps you make Vitamin D, maintain your cell walls, make some hormones and help you digest fat. Your liver makes a bunch of it every day - about 1000 milligrams. This is enough for your body to function so it isn't necessary to supplement you diet with any cholesterol packed foods - like that bacon cheese burger that I am now daydreaming about.

It is almost impossible to avoid all the foods with cholesterol so don't stress about it. But keep in mind that too much cholesterol can lead to heart disease or other serious health problems. Eating foods with cholesterol is only one of a whole list of things that can contribute to high levels in your system.

The good news is there are things you can do to control your cholesterol levels.

One of those things is Controlling What You Eat. Cholesterol is found mostly in foods from animal sources - the bacon, cheese and burger patty from that sandwich I can't stop thinking about. Plants give us things like fruits and veggies and grains which don't contain any.


Cholesterol travels around your body through your bloodstream. But it can't travel alone. It needs a protein to carry it around - kind of like a bus or a taxi. This forms what is called a lipoprotein.

HDL and LDL are the two most important lipoproteins.

  • HDL - High Density Lipoprotein takes its cholesterol passenger back to the liver to be sent out of the body. That is why it has become known as the "good cholesterol"
  • LDL - Low Density Lipoprotein on the other hand is known as the "bad cholesterol". It is the one that tends to clog the arteries and cause you health problems.

Should You Worry About High Cholesterol?

Simply put, YES. When there is too much in your body the LDL's can get deposited on your arteries and form what is known as plaque. This makes the space available for your blood to flow much smaller. It can even completely close off an artery. This creates a condition called atherosclerosis - or a hardening of your arteries.

Getting atherosclerosis on the arteries around your heart puts you at a high risk for having a heart attack. Your doctor would call this coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease.

Getting atherosclerosis in the blood vessels that supply the brain puts you at a high risk for having a stroke. The medical term for this one is cerebral vascular disease.

Atherosclerosis can be found throughout your blood vessels and affect the blood flow to any one of your vital organs so it is never a good thing. That is why it is an important subject for everyone - even those in their teens and twenties - not just for those of us who have passed the 40 or 50 year birthday celebration.

Promoting good health throughout your life can prevent many serious health problems in the future. It is a proactive, disease prevention type of approach instead of the symptom treating, reactive approach taken by most of the medical establishment.

How Do LDL Cholesterol Levels Get Too High?

Food is only one of the things that can boost your levels. And because everyone is different, what affects you might not affect your neighbor. Here are a few factors that can contribute to high cholesterol:

  • Weight - Being overweight can lead to higher levels of LDL.
  • Genetics - This is one that you can't escape. If it's coded in your genes you will just have more (or hopefully less) than the next guy. The people on the unlucky side are the ones that usually need some sort of supplement to help keep their LDL cholesterol down.
  • Food - You are what you eat. SO if you eat the (yummy) bacon cheese burger all the time you will have higher cholesterol just like the burger does. Try to avoid too many foods that are high in things like saturated fat or trans fat and of course cholesterol. These all increase your risk of atherosclerosis and the diseases associated with it. (For most of us this doesn't mean we can never eat a burger and fries again, it just means you should think moderation. TOO much of anything is never good.)
  • Age - We all do it. So this is like genetics in the fact that you can't avoid the increased risks of high cholesterol as you get older.
  • Exercise - Being physically active has been shown to increase HDL levels (the good stuff). This can help to reduce some of the problems that bad LDL is causing.

Luckily, there are things you can do to lower your cholesterol. Read more on Page 2...

Continue >>>

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