It may surprise you to find out that cholesterol itself is not bad. Cholesterol is just one of the many substances created and used by our bodies to keep us healthy. In fact, your body needs cholesterol to make certain hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you digest foods.
Although cholesterol is necessary, having high too much can be risky. A high circulating cholesterol level may lead to damage to the inner linings of the arteries and can potentially pave the way for heart-related complications. Cholesterol comes from two sources: your body and food. Yes, your body produces its own supply of cholesterol in your liver. You also consume cholesterol when you eat animal–based foods like meat, dairy, egg yolk, poultry and fish. Plants don’t produce cholesterol, so if you follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, the foods you consume won’t contribute to your cholesterol profile.
As there are two sources, there are also two types of cholesterol - HDL (the “good”) and LDL (the “bad”). HDL is good because it works to transport cholesterol away from the blood vessels for processing by the liver or removal from the body. LDL is the bad form because it tends to build up in the arteries and is known to cause damage to the blood vessels when it accumulates. Too much of LDL cholesterol or too little of HDL can put you at greater cardiovascular risk.
So what can you do if you have high blood cholesterol? Changing your diet by lowering your total cholesterol and saturated fat intake is a great start. Increasing your physical activity and quitting bad habits like smoking or excessive drink are also good lifestyle modifications to make. If high blood cholesterol runs in your family, changing your diet and exercise regimen could help, but these changes might not be enough.
The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recommends 2000 milligrams of plant sterols and stanols as part of their Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet to help lower cholesterol naturally. Given the amount of sterols and stanols naturally found in food, most people only consume around 200 milligrams through their diet. Choosing a supplement like CholestOff®, which provides 1800 milligrams of plant sterols and stanols, can help you meet the level recommended by the NCEP to help lower cholesterol levels. Products containing at least 400 mg per serving of plant sterols and stanols, eaten twice a day with meals for a daily intake of at least 800 mg as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of Nature Made CholestOff® supplies 900 mg of plant sterols and stanols per serving for a daily intake of 1800 mg.