What Exactly Is Cholesterol? | AFC Urgent Care | Portland

That's an interesting question, actually! Most people think of cholesterol as one of the levels your doctor checks at your annual checkup.

And while that's true, that doesn't really nail down exactly what cholesterol is. Our team at AFC Urgent Care is taking a few minutes in this blog to shed light on what cholesterol is and how you can maintain a normal cholesterol level.

What Role Does Cholesterol Play?

This is where things are a little tricky. We usually think of cholesterol as something we want to control, but cholesterol is actually a beneficial substance for our health.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the body that produces hormones and enzymes that help your body digest food. You need it to function. But when you have too much cholesterol, it can build up in your arteries and lead to blockages and serious health issues.

Types of Cholesterol

  • Total cholesterol
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
  • Triglycerides

How Can I Keep My Cholesterol Level Normal?

To maintain a healthy cholesterol number and keep your arteries clear of plaque, you want to practice healthy lifestyle habits. What are those, though?

They're pretty simple—eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get enough quality sleep each night, don't smoke, and limit your alcohol consumption. These basic habits can help you eliminate or mitigate risk factors for high cholesterol and stay healthy. Watching what you eat is especially important since too much saturated fat is a key risk factor for elevated cholesterol.

Risk Factors for High Cholesterol

  • Diet high in saturated fat
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Excess weight
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of high cholesterol

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