Understanding Cholesterol: The Fundamental Facts

Cholesterol is one of the most important substances in your body. On the positive side, it’s used to produce various hormones, it’s used to produce Vitamin D and it lines various cells to protect and insulate them.
On the down side, high blood cholesterol is one of the biggest causes of heart disease and strokes. Cholesterol can be loosely broken down into “good” (HDL) cholesterol and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. Too little of the good cholesterol is bad, and too much of the bad cholesterol is bad.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
There are many factors that can play into increasing a person’s cholesterol levels.
The most important factor is diet. Though only 20% of the cholesterol in your bloodstream comes from your food, what you eat can have a big impact on how much cholesterol your body produces overall.
In other words, the 80% that doesn’t come directly from your food is still affected by the foods you eat.
Smoking and alcohol consumption can also play a big role in increasing cholesterol. The difference in HDL and LDL levels of smokers/drinkers versus non-smokers/drinkers is vast.
Finally, overall weight and physical fitness also plays a role.
Testing for High Cholesterol 
High cholesterol isn’t a condition that manifests itself in an easily detectable form. By the time warning signs show up, it’s often too late.
Instead, high cholesterol should be detected by your doctor in your annual health check-ups. In fact, your doctor should inform you if you might have a cholesterol issue several years before you reach critical levels.
Who Should Worry about High Cholesterol?
Everybody. While it’s true that the risk of high cholesterol goes up with age, it’s simply not true that if you’re younger you can’t get high cholesterol.
By: Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND

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