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The Good, The Bad, and the Truth About Cholesterol

September 26th, 2022

It’s likely you’re no stranger to the word “cholesterol”. But do you know what cholesterol actually is?

In simple terms, cholesterol is just a waxy fat. But…it’s a waxy fat that can be found within almost every cell in your body.

Despite the bad press it gets, cholesterol is essential for good health. In particular, cholesterol is required for the synthetization of important substances like hormones and the chemicals needed for digestion.

You may be surprised to know that your liver can make every bit of cholesterol your body needs from fats, sugars, and proteins. Only about 20% comes directly from food sources like eggs, cheese, and meat.

To make cholesterol transportable through your bloodstream, your liver packages it inside a protein casing. This combination of cholesterol and its protein casing is called a “lipoprotein”.

The liver produces several kinds of lipoproteins, but there are two broad categories:

  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL), often referred to as “good cholesterol”
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), often referred to as “bad cholesterol”

Why LDL is Considered “Bad”

LDL cholesterol is the most common lipoprotein in your body. In and of itself, it isn’t actually bad. In fact, the cholesterol that LDL carries performs many vital functions.

However, excess LDL tends to get left as deposits along the sides of blood vessels. Over time, these deposits turn into plaque that can cause blockages.

What’s “Good” About HDL?

Think of LDL like the messy roommate that never picks up after itself. It leaves cholesterol all over the place…especially on your blood vessel walls where it can become plaque deposits.

HDL, on the other hand, is the “neat” roommate. It cleans up those LDL deposits in your blood vessels and returns them to your liver. From there, your liver breaks them down so they can be removed from your body.

What About Triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a different kind of fat from cholesterol, but they are just as important from a health standpoint.

When you eat more calories than your body needs, those extra calories get stored as triglycerides. When you need extra energy or your calorie intake is reduced, your body burns these stored triglycerides as fuel.

However, if you routinely consume more calories than you need, those excess calories will be stored as fat. Excess fat, especially when it gets stored around your midsection, increases risk factors for heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

What Your Numbers Mean

Doctors will check cholesterol periodically by ordering what’s called a “lipid panel”. Here’s what most doctors are looking for by way of cholesterol values:

  • LDL that is less than 100 mg/dl
  • HDL that is greater than 50 mg/dl
  • Triglycerides that are less than 150 mg/dl

If your LDL or triglycerides are above the recommended value…or your HDL is lower than recommended…your doctor will likely suggest lifestyle changes in the form of a healthier diet and more exercise.

If these adjustments fail to bring cholesterol numbers within a healthy range, your doctor may recommend prescription medication.

At Renew Youth, we can detect changes in your cholesterol and triglycerides before they cause major health issues. To learn more, call us at 800-859-7511 or use our contact form to schedule your free 30-minute consultation.

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