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Ask Ester: Low weight, high cholesterol

Q. I am skinny and have high levels of cholesterol. How can that be?
A. A common misconception is that skinny people have low cholesterol and overweight people have high cholesterol.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is in every cell in the body and is used to build healthy cells and some vital hormones.
HDL ó high density lipoproteins ó”good” cholesterol is primarily responsible for carrying cholesterol from various organs and tissues to the liver for recycling or degradation.
LDL ó Low density lipoproteins, or bad” cholesterol ó is responsible for carrying cholesterol from the liver to other organs and tissues of the body.
LDL is considered “bad” because it is less stable than HDL because it contains less protein and more lipids and is prone to break apart. Since it doesn’t return cholesterol back to the liver it tends to “hang out” in the blood stream.
High cholesterol (over 240) with the LDL over 130, can leave fatty deposits in the blood vessels.
Eventually, it can make it hard for the blood to pass through the vessels and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Now that you verified the problem, there are some positive changes you can make:
– Attack the fat by cutting the amount of fat out of your diet, especially saturated fat.
– Have no more than one serving of lean meat, fish or poultry per day (three to four ounces ó size of the palm of your hand).
– Limit red meat to two or three times a week.
– Choose olive oils, canola oil or liquid vegetable oils like sunflower, corn and safflower oils.
– Avoid organ meats like liver because they have high cholesterol content.
– Boost fiber intake.
– Exercise!
Regular exercise can be a positive aid to lower your cholesterol.
Many times, with a healthy diet and regular exercise, you can lower your cholesterol to within a healthy range.
But sometimes that will not be enough, whether because of heredity or an unexplained reason, and medication may be needed to lower the cholesterol. Talk to your doctor, check all levels of cholesterol, re-check if not sure or just double check. Ask questions.
Remember, it is not the size of someone’s body that decides the level of cholesterol.
nnn
Ester Marsh is associate executive director of the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA. Contact her with health and fitness questions at 704-636-0111 or emarsh@rowanymca.com.

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