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Good Cholesterol, Bad Cholesterol - Can exercise make a difference?

Posted Sep 20 2010 1:56pm

dinnervegetables
MSN Health and Fitness

A. For the record, cholesterol in the body is a good thingit is needed for cell membranes and the production of hormones, among other functions. But too much can signal that there is too much fat in the blood. Back in the ’80s when people became of aware of the need to control their cholesterol levels, many did so by shunning eggs since they contain a large amount of the substance. However, eggs are not a problem. The body makes what cholesterol it needs; the more that comes from food, the less the body makes. So cholesterol levels are controlled automatically. But a diet high in saturated and trans fats, typical of someone who eats lots of unhealthy food, may overload the body beyond its ability to regulate its levels.

Cholesterol levels reflect the amount of fat being carried through your blood by different “lipoproteins.” These numbers are used as a measure to predict your risk for heart disease. Your total cholesterol number is not as important as the figures for each of the components: your LDLs, HDLs and triglycerides.

High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) are considered to be beneficial since they sweep the blood of excess fat and cholesterol. On the other hand, low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) are worrisome because they can contribute to the build-up of plaque in your arteries. Recent research shows that the size of each of these particles is as important as the number. So with LDLs, if they are bigger and fluffier they are less likely to contribute to plaque than the smaller and denser variety. (The type of blood test to ascertain size is not often performed in a regular check-up, however.)

Experts agree that out-of-whack cholesterol, especially LDL at or above borderline levels, needs to be treated to lower the risks of heart disease. Doctors recommend an LDL level below 100 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter of blood.), and below 70 mg/dL for those with other risk factors. Triglycerides should be below 150 mg/dL, and “good” cholesterol, HDLs, should be kept high, above 40 mg/dL and more than 60 mg/dL optimally. To find out more check out: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/index.htm#chol

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