How Cholesterol Works with Your Body

May 18,2016

Although health problems can occur when your daily intake of food contains too much cholesterol, your body actually needs cholesterol to function properly. In fact you couldn't stay alive without cholesterol. Since cholesterol doesn't mix with water, it cannot be transported through the body as is. Instead it travels through your circulatory system as lipoproteins. However, too many lipoprotein packets can cause cholesterol to get left in your blood vessels.

According to the American Heart Association, over 100 million Americans have cholesterol levels higher than recommended. High cholesterol can lead to a narrowing in the blood vessels that may eventually block blood flow and greatly increase your risk of coronary heart disease (the nation's number one killer).

How Your Body Manages Cholesterol

After you consume foods containing fatty acids, they pass through your stomach before being absorbed in the intestines. The cholesterol is then sent to your liver for final processing. The liver converts cholesterol into very-low density lipoproteins (VLDL's). The VLDL's along with triglycerides travel through your circulatory system via your blood vessels. Once the VLDL's shed the triglycerides, they become low-density liproproteins (LDL's), which is "bad" cholesterol. The LDL's are picked up by high-density lipoproteins (HDL's) or the "good" cholesterol. LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol along with one fifth of your triglycerides make up your cholesterol count. Anytime your body is short of HDL's, the cholesterol-mix traveling through your blood vessels can stick to the walls causing a partial or total blockage.

Lower Your Bad Cholesterol Levels

Poor cholesterol management can significantly impact your health and wellness. But, by reducing the amount of animal fats that you consume and increasing the amount of fiber, you can help reverse the effects. Limiting your intake of fats from meats and dairy products to less than one third of daily caloric intake is the best place to start. You should get the fat that your body needs from plant-based foods, and it will increase your intake of soluble fiber. As an added benefit, plants contain stanols and sterols which help to prevent the absorption of cholesterol. You can also lower your cholesterol levels by eating more complex (good) carbohydrates from starches, grains, legumes and root vegetables.

One fifth of the population of the United States are estimated to have high cholesterol levels. To learn more about managing your cholesterol and to check for contributing factors like diabetes, contact any PrimeMed location for a cholesterol screening. Call our friendly staff at 904-269-0500 to book an appointment today.