- Avoiding high-fat foods will lower your chances of getting high cholesterol.Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
Cholesterol is composed of a waxy, fat-like substance found in your bloodstream and every cell in the body. It is in meat, eggs and dairy products. Its function is to help body cells work together as a unit. The liver produces the majority of cholesterol in the body. Maintaining the recommended cholesterol levels is crucial to your overall health to avoid such illnesses as heart disease.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is often referred to as the "good" cholesterol. These lipoproteins take the excess cholesterol in your blood back to your liver where it can be broken down. This in turn will prevent blocked arteries. The higher HDL cholesterol levels you have the less bad cholesterol in your blood. For women the target cholesterol level for HDL is less than 40 milligrams per deciliter. In men, the target is less than 50 milligrams per deciliter. Some small lifestyle changes can help you maintain or reach your target HDL level such as quitting smoking, regular exercise and selecting healthier fats.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the "bad" cholesterol. It carries the cholesterol around your body giving it to different organs and tissues. If your body already has a high amount of cholesterol, the particles will circulate in your bloodstream. Over time, it will build up and constrict blood vessel walls. Eventually, it narrows the blood vessel walls to the point where artery disease forms. The recommended LDL level is below 5.2 millimoles per L.
- Fat cells store triglycerides. They are a type of lipid found in the blood. When you eat, any calories your body does not need turn into triglycerides. If you eat more calories than you burn, such as carbs and high-fat foods, this will cause high triglycerides. As part of a cholesterol test, your doctor checks triglyceride levels as well. The normal level is less than 150 milligrams per deciliter. Having high levels of triglycerides can increase your risk of heart disease.