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Man Alive: What is cholesterol and how to prevent it?

Simply, cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood. It is actually essential to producing healthy cells. However, too much of it can cause heart disease.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — You probably hear the term cholesterol almost every time you watch television, whether it is a medicine or a certain breakfast cereal that promises to lower it.

However, do you know what cholesterol actually is and what it does?

Simply, cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood. It is actually essential to producing healthy cells. However, too much of it can cause heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.

There are two basic types of cholesterol:

  • LDL - "bad cholesterol"
  • HDL - "good cholesterol"   

Among the causes of a buildup of LDL are poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, age, smoking and diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic. High cholesterol could eventually result in a heart attack, stroke or chest pains.

However, there are simple ways to prevent high cholesterol. The Mayor Clinic offers these prevention tips:

  • Eat a low-salt diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Limit the amount of animal fats and use good fats in moderation
  • Lose extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Exercise on most days of the week for at least 30 minutes
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all
  • Manage stress