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We've heard a lot about cholesterol in the past few years. We've heard we need to lower our cholesterol levels or we put ourselves at risk for related diseases. The facts are that there is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. If you have a high cholesterol level, you want to lower it, unless of course the cholesterol in your system is good cholesterol.
Cholesterol is essentially fat that is used in making hormones. When you get too much cholesterol in your blood, it deposits particles on your arteries. That's when it causes problems. Over time, if your cholesterol level remains high, the cholesterol will continue to leave these particles on the walls of your arteries, and this hardening of arteries can lead to heart disease. If you're over 20 years old, a healthy cholesterol level is less than 200 mg/dl. If you're under 20 years old, you should have cholesterol levels less than 170 mg/dl.
There is such a thing as good cholesterol, however. Your body needs some cholesterol in order to live. The difference is this: because cholesterol is transported in your blood stream by attaching itself to proteins, there is truly nothing wrong with it. The problem comes in when a particular type of cholesterol, the low-density lipoprotein, decides to stick to the sides of arteries. The good cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, helps rid your arteries of bad proteins by swiping by them, grabbing hold of them, and carrying them to your liver for excretion. Overall, however, you want to keep a low level of cholesterol.
In order to lower your cholesterol level, you should watch what you eat. Steer clear of saturated fats. Substitute items in your diet that are high in fat for items that are low in fat. Drink skim milk rather than whole milk. Don't have more than six ounces a day of meat, and eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.