When we think about being concerned over cholesterol levels we think about overweight Uncle Jack or Grandma Mae who suffered a heart attack last year; we seldom give a thought to our children and their cholesterol levels, why should we?
They are just kids and why should we worry about what their levels are?
It hasn't been all that long, since we have even tracked cholesterol levels and what they mean as we age but, experts believe that high cholesterol levels in children is a major reason for underreported health problems especially in the light of the information available to use in the past few years about the alarming elevated rate of obesity in children and the resulting health issues.
Pediatricians have been reporting that they are seeing more elevated cholesterol levels in their patients over the past few years. Not surprising that both the weight for kids and their cholesterol levels have risen at the same time.
There has been a correlation drawn between adults who are overweight and that being a risk factor for high cholesterol so we can surmise that the same correlation can be drawn for our children as well.
High levels of LDL cholesterol are also known to be a major factor for strokes and coronary artery disease, which has its roots in childhood. This information about your child's cholesterol risks are especially important to know if one or both of the parents has high cholesterol levels.
All this cholesterol risk information is interesting, but what does it mean for your child today?
Knowing that there may be health issues for your child in the future based on the cholesterol levels they have today and their risk factors can translate into making better decisions regarding diet, and exercise while they are growing so that they can minimize their risk factors and form healthy habits to control their cholesterol now and in the future.
Animal foods such as egg yolks, meat, poultry, seafood, and whole milk products such s milk, cheese and ice cream all contain cholesterol. Kids with high cholesterol or who have risk factors can learn to limit their intake of these foods.
One thing that kids can learn about cholesterol that is fun is that cholesterol does not like to travel through their bodies by itself.
It needs to have a traveling companion. It chooses to have protein as the traveling companion and together these traveling companions are called "lipoproteins".
There are two kinds of lipoproteins: low density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
The LDL is labeled as the "bad cholesterol" because they are the primary cholesterol carriers. When there is too much LDL in your bloodstream they build up on the walls of your arteries and that that is what leads to plaque (a thick, hard substance) leading to your heart and brain that can be responsible for heart attacks and strokes.
Blocked arteries can also lead to problems with the flow of blood to other vital organs such as the kidneys and the intestines both of which are necessary for good health. We want low levels of the LDL, "bad cholesterol".
The HDL are labeled as the "good cholesterol" because they do all the hard work of carrying away the cholesterol from the arteries and back to the liver where it then exits the body without causing any harm. We want high levels of this HDL, "good cholesterol".