Following September’s health education, cholesterol and how to maintain what is considered “good” is very prevalent, especially in recent years regarding CDC surveys and data. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention documents that nearly 1 in 3 American adults have “high cholesterol”, which is about 95 million people and 7% of American children have it as well.

What is cholesterol? It is a substance, similar to plaque that your body needs to function and it is found in fats that you consume. Cholesterol travels through your blood on something called lipoproteins. There are two types: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is known as “bad cholesterol” and can increase risks of heart disease and stroke. Too much of LDL causes build up on your blood vessels, narrowing the blood flow and increasing the chance of blockage. HDL is known as “good cholesterol”, which is absorbed and carried back to the liver where it is flushed from the body. High levels of HDL can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Some causes of “high cholesterol” include an unbalanced consumption of saturated fats and trans fats. Our bodies do need fat, but try to consume in moderation and more healthy fats like vegetable oils (olive, canola, sunflower, soy and corn), nuts, seeds, and fish. Also, high levels can be affected by Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Physical inactivity, Smoking, Excess alcohol intake and Family History. Age does affect one’s ability to clear cholesterol as well as it used to.

How does one maintain a balanced amount of cholesterol to be heart healthy and happy? The American Heart Association recommends that all adults ages 20 or older should have their cholesterol checked every four to six years. It is also recommended to keep an active lifestyle integrated with mindful eating habits.

For more information about cholesterol and ways to keep healthy, please contact your doctor or your medical provider for additional resources.