Cholesterol
Last Edited: April 10th, 2012

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Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a thick, waxy substance that is produced by the liver. It is also found in a wide variety of foods, particularly those that are considered to be unhealthy. Your liver produces approximately 1,000 milligrams of cholesterol each day, and this cholesterol is used to create the bile that your body needs to digest fat. This is all the cholesterol that the human body needs, but unfortunately, many individuals consume high-cholesterol foods in dangerous amounts, which can lead to the development of a wide variety of ailments.

Processed animal fats, fast foods, baked goods, and sugar-laden treats can cause your cholesterol levels to increase when eaten on a regular basis. As cholesterol levels rise, the rate at which the blood flows through your body and vital organs begins to decline. The cholesterol that builds up in your blood will eventually thicken and harden. Once the walls of your blood vessels and arteries get coated with cholesterol, they will lose elasticity and become stiff. The inside of your blood vessels and arteries become clogged as well, making it more difficult for blood to travel throughout your body.

When certain body parts and organs do not get enough blood, they begin to malfunction. For example, insufficient blood flow to your legs and feet can cause cramping, pain, numbness, varicose veins and boils. Insufficient blood flow to your liver and kidneys will cause them to malfunction and eventually stop working which can cause liver disease or acute renal failure. You have likely heard that high cholesterol levels can lead to a heart attack and stroke, which is certainly true. If the brain lacks a sufficient amount of blood, a stroke will likely develop. When arteries become clogged due to high cholesterol, the blood flow to your heart will diminish and eventually stop, which can lead to a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

Dietary habits are the main culprit when it comes to high cholesterol levels, but family history and smoking can also increase the chances of cholesterol developing in your blood. Smoking causes tar and other poisons to build up in your blood, which causes it to move slowly. Smoking and eating poorly will cause your cholesterol levels to rise much quicker than just smoking or eating poorly alone. Both actions will dramatically increases your chances of developing a heart attack, stroke, and many other ailments. Two of the fastest ways to get your cholesterol level to go down is to quit smoking and to change your diet.

If you have a history of high cholesterol in your family, it is important to get a baseline cholesterol test done yearly. If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may suggest dietary changes and an exercise regimen for you to follow. Exercising frequently is another way to lower your cholesterol levels quickly. Because high cholesterol is a lifestyle-related ailment, staying active, eating healthy and avoiding cigarettes are the best ways to keep your levels under control. Avoiding processed, fatty foods is another way to lower cholesterol levels. Find healthy alternatives, such as fresh fish and baked poultry, to decrease the amount of cholesterol you consume.