Cholesterol: Good Fat Bad Fat
Heart Health > > Cholesterol: Good Fat Bad Fat
Everyone has been there. You're at your doctor's office to get the results of your yearly checkup, and you hear one of two things. Either your cholesterol levels are normal, or they are higher than they should be. If it's the latter phrase you are hearing from your doctor, chances are that you need to start limiting the amount of saturated fats that you consume in your diet. But thats not saying that some fats should be canceled out from the diet, as a matter of fact there are some good fats that our bodies need!
The mention of cholesterol is usually associated with the bad cholesterol. Many people are unaware that there is also good cholesterol. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is present in your bloodstream and throughout your body's cellular structure. Cholesterol is both produced naturally by your body and ingested when you eat animal products such as meats, poultry, eggs, butter and cheese.
Cholesterol does not dissolve in your bloodstream. Cholesterol, like other fats, requires lipoproteins that “carry” fats to and from cells in your body. The density of these lipoproteins determine if cholesterol is good or bad. When you hear bad cholesterol mentioned, that's low-density lipoprotein (LDL). An abundance of LDL cholesterol can constrict the arteries of your heart and cause an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Good cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein (HDL), is a natural product of your body that actually carries cholesterol away from your arteries.
Bad cholesterol, the type to worry about, is caused by ingesting foods that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol. It is important to practice moderation when eating foods containing saturated fat. Many people with hectic workday schedules end up eating more saturated fats because of constant eating out and regular ingestion of fast foods.
What is a healthy level of cholesterol in your bloodstream? As a guideline, your total blood cholesterol level should be less than 200 mg/dL. At this level, you are considered low risk for a heart attack or other heart related problems. Levels between 200 mg/dL to 239 mg/dL mean that you are at an elevated risk for a heart attack, also known as borderline high risk. Blood cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or over should be cause for concern, because at these levels your risk of a heart attack are high. Talk to your doctor to obtain an accurate blood cholesterol reading.
You should maintain a healthy level of cholesterol by undergoing regular cholesterol screening as a part of your yearly doctor visits. More frequently, you should consider eating foods that are either fat free or low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Most importantly, and often the most overlooked key to maintaining your cholesterol, is regular exercise. Regular exercise can maintain your cholesterol by burning fat and helping you stay at a healthy body weight. With a proper diet, adequate exercise, and good advice from your doctor or health care professional, you should have no problem keeping your cholesterol levels in the safe zone.