High cholesterol means that a person has too much cholesterol in their body. Cholesterol accumulates on the artery walls and can prevent the blood from flowing through the body correctly. Although the body does need some cholesterol to work properly, when there is too much cholesterol in the body there can be serious health consequences like heart disease or stroke. High cholesterol can develop when a person consistently eats too many high cholesterol foods, especially those that are high in saturated fat. It can also develop due to inherited health conditions.
People who have high cholesterol can't pump blood effectively and can develop severe health problems that could result in heart attack and stroke.
Good cholesterol is High-Density Lipoprotein. High-Density Lipoprotein fights the bad cholesterol (Low-Density Lipoprotein,) removing it from the blood. Foods with good cholesterol include olive oil, beans and legumes, whole grains, salmon and other fatty fish, nuts, and flax.
Bad cholesterol is Low-Density Lipoprotein. It is often found in foods that are high in saturated fat and in foods that are highly processed. Natural foods like fruits, veggies, and lean meats don't have high levels of LDL cholesterol, so if people avoid processed foods they can often greatly reduce their intake of bad cholesterol.
Cholesterol numbers combine HDL and LDL cholesterol. The total number should be less than 200 mg/dL. People who have a reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL are nearing high cholesterol, and people who have 240 mg/dL or higher have high cholesterol.
The right lifestyle choices can often make a big difference in cholesterol numbers. Patients should start with a healthy diet and regular exercise. If lifestyle adjustments aren't able to bring cholesterol numbers into a healthy range, the doctor can prescribe medications that will help.