A Nutritionist Explains How to Lower Cholesterol Effectively

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Cholesterol has historically had a negative stigma attached to it, perhaps because it's usually followed with talk of how to keep its levels low and the dangers of it being high. But what exactly is it? Brooke Alpert, M.S., RD, CDN, author of The Diet Detox (available for preorder) explains, “Cholesterol is a wax-like substance that is actually necessary for living. It's essential to protect your cells, make hormones, and convert sun exposure to vitamin D."

Its existence gets a bit tricky, though: Each and every cell in your body has cholesterol, which the liver produces on its own in the exact quantity necessary to carry out its functions. However, because cholesterol is essentially a fat-like substance, having too much of it can cause plaque buildup, which could lead to coronary heart disease or a heart attack. But what's possibly even more alarming is that oftentimes a person with high cholesterol won't show signs or symptoms until the buildup has progressed to a dangerous level.

Also, there's the whole LDL and HDL thing, which can get a little confusing. In layman's terms, LDL translates to low-density lipoproteins, which travel through the bloodstream to deliver cholesterol to other cells, but high levels of these can break off and stick to the artery walls, which is why it's often referred to as the "bad cholesterol." HDL, or high-density lipoproteins, is considered the "good cholesterol" because they carry excess cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver, which then removes it from the body or uses it for digestion. In other words, the higher your levels of HDL and the lower your levels of LDL, the better.

So how can you ensure that you have a healthy levels of each? Keep scrolling for more info.

Before taking supplements or changing your diet, please speak with a medical professional.

Next up, check out these low-glycemic foods to keep your blood sugar regulated.