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Cholesterol: What is it and what does it do in your body?

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We see it listed on food labels and hear health care professionals talk about it, but do you know what it actually is?

(WYTV) – Most of us know that high cholesterol is bad for our hearts, but do you really understand what cholesterol is and why it’s so closely related to heart problems?

We see it listed on food labels and hear health care professionals talk about it, but do you know what it actually is?

LDL, or the so-called bad cholesterol, builds up the plaque deposits in our arteries, and that’s when those arteries can narrow and harden. Trouble is just down the road at that point.

“So that bad cholesterol — when those plaques build, if they rupture, they can go and cause a heart attack or even cause a stroke,” Dr. Claire Haga said.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that’s found in the fats in your blood. You’ll always have it. We need some of it to make hormones and build cells.

What you want is the so-called good cholesterol — that’s HDL. It absorbs your body’s extra cholesterol and carries it back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from your body.

What you eat affects your cholesterol levels, so you have some power to control it. Go easy on the trans fats and saturated fats. Read your food labels — they’ll tell you what to expect.

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