Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in the cells of animals. It can either be ingested from food or can be produced by the body itself. It is circulated throughout your body through your blood stream and too much of cholesterol can accumulate to form plaque between the walls of your arteries. Plaque can cause your arteries to harden, which can lead to heart strokes and high blood pressure.
What Are The Facts About Cholesterol?
1. Cholesterol Is Not Always Bad
There are two types of cholesterol in our body. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is known as bad cholesterol and HDL cholesterol is known as good cholesterol. Excess of LDL cholesterol can accumulate in your arteries and can cause build up of plaque, whereas HDL cholesterol scavenges LDL cholesterol and removes it from the arteries.
Some amount of cholesterol is necessary as it is utilized by the liver to process fat and is also utilized by other parts of your body to function properly.
2. Cholesterol Can Be In Your Genes
High cholesterol levels can be unavoidable for some people as genetic factors can also account for high LDL cholesterol levels. A condition called familial hypercholesterolemia—a hereditary condition—can cause your LDL cholesterol levels to become abnormally high and can lead to heart attacks early in life. Aggressive treatment is needed for this condition.
3. High Cholesterol Can Be Seen Externally
When there is an excess of cholesterol in your body, it can be visible on the outside. High cholesterol levels can lead to fatty growth under the skin, which appear as yellowish, red bumps on the surface. These bumps are known as xanthomas and can be found anywhere on the body especially on the joints, hands, and eyelids.
4. Exercise Can Raise Good Cholesterol
Exercise should be made a part of your routine to lead a healthy life. Exercise has been shown to increase the level of HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol in the body. If you are overweight, even dropping 10-20 percent of your body weight can do wonders for your cholesterol levels.
5. Increase In Cholesterol Is Natural With Age
You cholesterol levels increase naturally with age, especially in women. Before menopause, most women have lower cholesterol levels than men but after menopause, the cholesterol levels of women was found to be considerably higher than the cholesterol levels of men. The significant increase in cholesterol levels of women can be due to the fall in estrogen level after menopause.
Too much or too less of cholesterol can be harmful for your body. It is important to eat right and to exercise regularly to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.