The way we eat affects our bodies in so many ways, cholesterol levels being just one of them. You may have heard from certain food commercials that their food product helps lower cholesterol, like Cheerios. What do they really mean by this? What is cholesterol? This post takes a deep dive answering these questions and to provide you with information on how you can manage your cholesterol levels within a healthy range.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol in the body is used to help make Vitamin D, bile acids, and myelin sheaths. Bile acids are used to help digest fats, and myelin sheaths are the part of neurons that makes sure the electrical signal can move from one side of the cell to the other for cellular communication. Cholesterol is actually very important! When doctors may tell you to lower your cholesterol, they are most likely talking about your LDL levels specifically. Talk with your doctor and ask questions if you are confused or concerned about your LDL, HDL, or total cholesterol levels.
There are two different forms of cholesterol – LDL and HDL. LDL is known as the “bad” form; it carries cholesterol molecules to cells in the body that need it. It can become bad when there is too much LDL carrying cholesterol because then it may collect in the walls of the arteries creating a buildup of plaque, which does not give blood enough room to pass through the artery. HDL is known as the “good” form; it’s role is to get rid of excess cholesterol in the blood. This helps keep the arteries clear and prevent plaque from building up on the artery walls.
What Foods Help Lower Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is found in animal sources only, not in plants. Common food sources include poultry, red meat, pork, dairy, egg yolk, and shrimp. Depending on the product, cholesterol can be found in processed foods as well. Check the nutrition facts label on the package to see if it contains any cholesterol.
It is important to note that just because these foods contain cholesterol does not mean that they should be eliminated. Remember that cholesterol does play an important role in the body! And these foods are