Q. Glen, What is Cholesterol Anyway?
A. Cholesterol, a soft, fat-like substance, is a building block of your cells, hormones and nervous system, and is necessary for metabolism. In moderate amounts, it is essential to good health. Studies show that both high and low cholesterol levels can be harmful. The key seems to be making sure your body has enough--not too much, not too little.
Cholesterol comes from two sources:
- Serum (blood) cholesterol flows through the bloodstream. Your body manufactures most of its blood cholesterol, but it absorbs some from the foods you eat. When your doctor conducts a cholesterol test, he is testing your serum cholesterol levels. A total blood cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL is a healthy goal. The amount of cholesterol you have in your blood is partly genetic, but your habits (smoking, diet, exercise, etc.) affect the level of cholesterol in your blood too.
- Dietary cholesterol is found only in foods of animal origin, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. This source is easier to control than the naturally-occurring cholesterol in your body. Individuals should limit their intake of dietary cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams daily. But as you'll soon learn, limiting your dietary cholesterol intake is only part of the cholesterol-lowering picture.
Wishing You A Healthy Life Style!