We hear about the importance of low cholesterol in the news, from our doctors, even on boxes of cereal. But if we don’t know a thing about cholesterol, it’s difficult to understand all of the health claims we see. Here’s a helpful intro to understanding cholesterol in hopes of making it less intimidating:
What is Cholesterol, anyway?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance in our blood that our body needs for important processes, like creating new cells. Most of our cholesterol is made by our own bodies, but some comes from our diet, specifically animal products like meat and dairy.
There are two types of cholesterol: HDL and LDL
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is generally known as the “good” cholesterol. It carries cholesterol in our blood away from the arteries, preventing plaque buildup. Healthy levels of HDL (60 and above) protect against cardiovascular disease, while low levels (below 40 for men, below 50 for women) pose as a greater risk for disease and stroke. To increase your HDL, finding more time for physical activity, and eating a balanced diet, including unsaturated fats found in almonds and avocados, can help raise your numbers.
LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) circulates in the blood as well, but can build up on walls of arteries and clog them . This clogging of the arteries is a condition called atherosclerosis, which can block blood from flowing to the heart and can causes heart attacks. If