Cholesterol and Your Heart
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in certain foods, such as dairy products, eggs, and meat.
Your body also makes cholesterol to help create hormones and other substances. Having too much cholesterol in your body can lead to a buildup called plaque in your arteries, leaving less space for blood to flow. Blocked heart vessels can cause chest pain or a heart attack.
Types of Blood Fat
Cholesterol travels through the blood attached to a protein. These bundles, called lipoproteins, have names that may sound familiar:
High-density lipoproteins (HDL). These are the "good" cholesterol that helps your body get rid of bad cholesterol. The higher your HDL level, the better.
Triglycerides. Triglycerides aren't the same as cholesterol, but they are a type of fat that is linked to heart disease. A high level, along with high LDL cholesterol, can make a heart attack more likely.
What Controls Your Cholesterol Levels?
Things that can affect your cholesterol levels include:
Diet. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the foods you eat increase your levels.
Exercise. Regular activity can also lower bad cholesterol and bring up the good. Try to get physical for 30 minutes on most days.
Genes. Your heredity partly decides how much cholesterol your body makes. High levels can run in families.
Other causes. Certain medications and medical conditions can raise levels. High triglycerides could result from diabetes or thyroid problems. Losing weight and avoiding foods high in calories and sugar can help.