Cholesterol is a substance that resembles fat and helps support certain functions in the body. This substance is present in all cells and in the bloodstream, where it travels in lipoproteins. The body produces cholesterol naturally, but it's also present in certain kinds of foods. Cholesterol helps the body produce hormones and vitamin D. It also plays a role in food digestion.
There are 2 types of lipoproteins that transport cholesterol in the blood. High-density lipoproteins, or HDL, cholesterol is known as good cholesterol since it's responsible for bringing cholesterol to the liver from other areas of the body. This cholesterol leaves the body after being processed in the liver. Low-density lipoproteins, or LDL, cholesterol is known as bad cholesterol since it can accumulate in the arteries and increase the risk of heart problems.
Having high amounts of LDL cholesterol in the blood is associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease, heart attacks, angina, and other heart-related problems. High blood cholesterol levels can also increase the risk of stroke and carotid artery disease. Since high blood cholesterol doesn't usually produce noticeable symptoms, this problem can be difficult to detect early. At POTENTRx, the staff provides executive health assessments that can reveal high cholesterol levels. Clients can then begin working on lowering these cholesterol levels.
Bringing LDL cholesterol levels down and increasing HDL cholesterol levels helps reduce serious health risks. Foods with fiber can help decrease bad cholesterol levels by stopping cholesterol from being absorbed during digestion. Foods with high fiber amounts include whole-grain cereals, legumes, and fruits. Vegetables and fruits also have compounds that help lower cholesterol levels. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, also help reduce the risk of heart attacks. Individuals with high cholesterol levels should limit foods with high sodium levels and foods with saturated fats, which can increase LDL cholesterol levels.
Research has shown that regular physical activity helps bring down high LDL cholesterol levels and increases HDL cholesterol levels. Doing at least an hour of moderate exercise per week can make a difference in cholesterol levels. At POTENTRx, the doctors provide clients who have high cholesterol levels with an exercise prescription that can help bring them down.