What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver and other cells and found in certain foods, such as food from animals, like dairy products, eggs, meat and some cooking oils.
The body needs some cholesterol in order to function properly. Its cell walls, or membranes, need cholesterol in order to produce hormones, vitamin D, and the bile acids that help to digest fat. But the body needs only a limited amount of cholesterol to meet its needs.
Actually, your liver produces about 1,000 milligrams of cholesterol a day, enough cholesterol so that if you never touched another chicken ‘n’ chips, you’d be OK. But it’s hard to avoid cholesterol entirely because so many foods contain it and you probably consume about 150 to 250 milligrams in the foods you eat.
When too much is present health problems such as heart disease may develop.Many factors can contribute to high cholesterol, but the good news is there are things you can do to control them.
Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat increase cholesterol levels. Try to reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet.
In addition to being a risk factor for heart disease, being overweight can also increase cholesterol. Losing weight can help lower your LDL and total cholesterol levels, as well as increase HDL cholesterol.
Regular exercise can lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. You should try to be physically active for at least 30 minutes on most days.
Age and Gender
As we get older, cholesterol levels rise. Before menopause, women tend to have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. After menopause, however, women’s LDL levels tend to rise.
Poorly controlled diabetes increases cholesterol levels. With improvements in control, cholesterol levels can fall.
Your genes partly determine how much cholesterol the body makes. High blood cholesterol can run in families.
Certain medications and medical conditions can cause high cholesterol.