Cholesterol: What You Can Do About It
Cholesterol is a body fat found in the bloodstream and body cells. High blood cholesterol levels lead to narrowing of the arteries from a gradual buildup of fatty materials and significantly increases the risk of diabetes, heart and kidney diseases.
The liver produces 80 percent of blood cholesterol, and the rest comes from saturated fats in the diet -- meat, dairy products and processed foods tend to be the major causes of cholesterol problems.
There are two types of cholesterol -- low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is known as "bad" cholesterol as it carries cholesterol from the liver to cells and causes harmful buildup if excess is available.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is known as "good" cholesterol, takes cholesterol away from cells and back to the liver where it is broken down and excreted.
You should have a regular checkup if you suffer from or have a family history of heart disease, if you are obese, or if you suffer from diabetes, kidney disease, an under-active thyroid, or if you drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
A straightforward blood test will measure your cholesterol.