Tuesday, May 11, 2010
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Diet and lifestyle choices aren't only evident on the bathroom scale. The effect of these choices is also reflected with relative accuracy in cholesterol numbers.
The May issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter looks at how an individual's lifestyle choices can affect "good" and "bad" cholesterol levels as well as levels of triglycerides, another blood fat.
Cholesterol isn't inherently bad. It's essential to normal body functions and is found in every cell of the body. Cholesterol helps with digestion and hormone production. But too much puts blood vessels at risk. Cholesterol and triglycerides travel through the bloodstream, attached to proteins called lipoproteins. Deposits of excess low-density lipoprotein, the "bad" cholesterol, in the blood vessel walls result in narrowing. As blood flow is restricted, the risk of heart attack, stroke or sudden death increases.
Two factors affecting total cholesterol, age and heredity, can't be controlled. But many can.
Sometimes, diet and lifestyle choices alone aren't enough to manage total cholesterol levels. Yet, diet and exercise are important management strategies even when cholesterol-lowering medications are indicated.
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