The number of American adults with high cholesterol has dropped by about 5% from 1999 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data published in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Data Brief No. 92 dated April 12, 2012.
The NCHS data reports that about 13.4% of U.S. adults in 2009 to 2010 had high cholesterol, compared to 18.3% in 1999. This 5% drop surpasses the government’s goal to reduce the number of people with high cholesterol to less than 17% of the population by 2010. This reduction occurred despite the fact that more than two-thirds of the population is considered overweight or obese.
According to a February 8, 2012 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, another decline from 2000 to 2009 was trans fat consumption among white adults in the U.S. which saw a 58% reduction. During the same time period, regional bans and government regulations requiring proper labeling of artificial trans fats on food products may have helped with this reduction.
Maintaining healthy cholesterol numbers is something we all should be concerned about because high cholesterol is a known risk factor for serious heart and cardiovascular problems, which can lead to life-threatening conditions. Those with high total cholesterol have approximately twice the risk of heart conditions as those with healthy cholesterol numbers, which the CDC defines as lower than 200 mg/dL.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America, responsible for one in every four deaths in the U.S. each year. To support your heart health, it’s important to reduce your risk factors for heart problems, one of which is high cholesterol.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat, or lipid, naturally produced by the liver that is crucial for the human body to function properly. Found in the outer membranes of every cell in your body, cholesterol is needed for many important bodily functions.
Cholesterol is transported in the blood by lipoproteins that consist of both lipids (fats) and proteins. There are three main types of lipoproteins:
- LDL (low density lipoprotein): Considered the bad cholesterol, LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to the cells. If the blood carries more LDL than the cells can use, a harmful buildup of LDL can result, which can increase the risk of arterial disorders. Most human blood contains approximately 70% LDL.
- HDL (high density lipoprotein): Considered the good cholesterol, HDL does the opposite of LDL. It removes cholesterol from the cells and carries it back to the liver where it is broken down and expelled as waste.
- Triglycerides: The chemical forms of fat in the body and in food, triglycerides are found in blood plasma. Along with cholesterol, triglycerides form the plasma lipids, or blood fats, that come from fats in our food, or they are produced in the body from other energy sources, such as carbohydrates in food. Excess calories you eat that can’t be utilized immediately in your body are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells. In turn, when your body needs energy but there is no food to convert to energy, triglycerides are released from fat cells to be used as energy.
Important Functions of Cholesterol
- Cholesterol builds and maintains cellular membranes and prevents the hydrocarbons in membranes from crystalizing.
- Cholesterol is essential for cell membrane permeability, meaning it determines which molecules are allowed to enter the cells and which ones are not.
- Cholesterol helps produce sex hormones called androgens and estrogens.
- Cholesterol is essential to produce adrenal gland hormones called cortisol, corticosterone, aldosterone, and others.
- Cholesterol helps produce bile.
- Cholesterol produces vitamin D from sun exposure.
- Cholesterol is needed to metabolize fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K.
- Cholesterol insulates sensitive nerve fibers.
What are Healthy Cholesterol Numbers?
- Desirable cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL.
- Borderline high cholesterol is 200 to 239 mg/dL.
- High cholesterol is 240 mg/dL or higher.
How to Tell if You Have High Cholesterol?
There are no symptoms of high cholesterol, so even if you feel healthy, you may have dangerously high cholesterol and not even know it.
The only way to find out if you have high cholesterol is to have a cholesterol blood test to analyze the key lipids (fats) in your blood such as LDL, HDL, triglycerides and total cholesterol.
Current guidelines recommend that those over 20 years of age should have a cholesterol test every five years. However, you should be tested more often if you have a family history of high cholesterol, or if you have been diagnosed with a chronic condition such as diabetes or a heart condition.
Common Causes of High Cholesterol
- Poor diet high in saturated fats: While some food sources contain cholesterol, such as eggs and some seafood, dietary cholesterol does not significantly impact human blood cholesterol levels. However, saturated fats do! Foods high in saturated fats that should be kept to a minimum include red meats, sausages, hard cheeses, lard, cakes and pastries, biscuits, cream and many more.
- A sedentary lifestyle: Those who don’t exercise and are inactive have significantly higher levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower levels of HDL (good cholesterol).
- Being overweight: People who are overweight or obese have markedly higher LDL levels and lower HDL levels, compared to people who maintain a healthy weight.
- Smoking: Smoking can significantly elevate LDL levels.
- Excessive alcohol consumption: Those who drink too much alcohol on a regular basis generally have much higher LDL levels and much lower HDL levels, compared to people who abstain or drink in moderation.
- Family history: If there is a history of high cholesterol in your family, you may have a higher risk of it also
Natural Supplements for Cholesterol
To help you maintain healthy cholesterol numbers, try taking Healthy Choice Naturals Cholesterol Care. It is an all-natural nutritional supplement that contains all the key cholesterol-fighting ingredients that are missing from most diets, including beta-sitosterol, guggul lipid, red yeast rice, policosanol, beta glucan, soy isoflavones, and niacin. It is backed by a 90-day, money-back guarantee, so you can try it without risk.