University students, professional laboratory researchers and medical personnel have conducted many studies on cholesterol and its effects on the human body. A lot of the research has involved animals with circulatory systems and chemical makeup similar to human beings.
These studies sometimes include high-cholesterol diets in combination with various levels of exercise and other activity. A simple summary from this type of experiment shows that regular diets with high-cholesterol foods increase the chances of health problems, especially by preventing blood vessels from being as flexible as they need to be for good health. Significant deposits of material were found in the blood vessels of animals used during the studies.
It is believed that about 2 out of every 10 people in the U.S. have levels of cholesterol that are above what is considered “normal” for a healthy adult. Nearly every study shows that these high levels are a significant factor causing heart problems. High cholesterol levels increase the risk of serious damage to the heart and circulatory system. It is that simple.
While most people can reduce these levels with proper diet and regular exercise, others have inherited the tendency toward high cholesterol from previous generations. With these individuals, it may be necessary to prescribe specific pharmaceutical drugs that will help lower cholesterol in the blood stream. This condition is often due to abnormal activity in the liver so diet, exercise and other changes won’t make the necessary improvements.
In recent years, research has shown that there is “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol. Some of this natural material is needed in the blood stream, but in small quantities. Cholesterol is not as “liquid” as the blood but it does flow through the system. Research has shown that it is an important factor in the body’s ability to use certain crucial vitamins and that cholesterol is essential in the production of both male and female hormones. (Women normally have lower cholesterol levels than men.)
Yet this material, when it hardens, can cause serious health problems by blocking the arteries and restricting normal blood flow. Most people recognize that poor diet and lack of exercise lead to the buildup of excess cholesterol, but many do not understand the inheritance factor or the effects of smoking and alcohol. Medical personnel have found a definite connection between smoking, excess alcohol use and cholesterol levels in the blood stream. In most studies on the subject, there is a direct path from this to heart disease, heart attacks and even premature death.
A diet that includes the correct amounts of “complex” carbohydrates, fiber and fats (unsaturated) will help keep cholesterol levels in the normal range. Additional fruits and vegetables are important in the healthy diet as well. While high cholesterol levels can certainly be alarming, the condition is reversible.
But returning to a more “normal” cholesterol level requires dedication to a healthy diet and to a regular program of exercise. If these steps don’t make the required changes, it may be necessary to consult with a physician about medications to reduce cholesterol levels.