If you are a keen follower of health matters, you may have heard of the term cholesterol. Most people are picky when it comes to picking food products from store shelves with caution to avoid those with any percentage cholesterol. On the other hand, industries understand that branding that their products have zero cholesterol gives their brand a competitive edge. But what is cholesterol, what levels are right, what harmful effects it causes, and the benefits that come when you keep the levels under control?
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is needed by your body to build cells, make certain hormones and some vitamins. Therefore, it is not generally harmful to your body; however, too much of it can bring about health challenges such as a stroke, heart disease, or even atherosclerosis. This is a condition that leads to the clogging or hardening of the arteries.
It comes from two sources: your liver makes almost all that the body needs, while the other source is external – foods from animals. Poultry, for example, meat and dietary products, have dietary cholesterol.
When you overeat, your liver begins to manufacture more cholesterol than it should. This causes some people, therefore, to go from normal cholesterol levels to unhealthy levels. There are also tropical oils like palm kernel oil, palm oil, and coconut oil, which have saturated fats. This, too, is likely to give rise to bad cholesterol. Most of these oils are contained in baked goods.
Can Cholesterol Levels be Tested?
Yes, cholesterol levels can be tested. A complete test is also referred to as a lipid profile or lipid panel test. This is where a doctor measures the amount of good or bad cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. Triglycerides are a different type of fat that can be present in your blood.
Men need to have their levels checked regularly by the age of 30, while women should start as early as 40 years old. It is recommended that you start your routine checks every five years once you hit 20 years old. If you have diabetes or have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, or you are under medication to control your levels of cholesterol, then you should go for the check every year.
Is your Cholesterol High?
With high cholesterol levels, fatty deposits can start forming in your blood vessels. With time these deposits can grow to levels that could impede the normal blood flow through the arteries. In some instances, they may even break suddenly to form blood clots leading to a stroke or heart attack.
While it can be a result of poor lifestyle choices, high cholesterol can also be an inherited condition. If you are suffering from it, you need to observe regular exercise, a healthy diet, and medication to reduce it.
Should You Get Your Cholesterol Checked?
It is recommended that adults get the check despite how healthy they feel or their age. Even when cholesterol levels are high, you may not have any signs or symptoms, and the only way to determine whether or not it is high is through getting the check. Even young, healthy, and fit individuals may have raised cholesterol depending on their lifestyle or genes. As stated above, as the doctor checks the levels, they also check for another type of fat called triglycerides, as they also affect one’s health.
Since high cholesterol levels can lead to a heart attack, getting the test will clearly show the condition of your heart health. You will also know whether you are at risk of other health problems. It benefits you to know the level of cholesterol in your blood to help you have the levels under control and prevent life-threatening conditions and diseases.