One Major Change In The Food Industry Could Be Behind Our Improving Cholesterol Levels

Americans’ cholesterol levels are heading in the right direction, a new analyze finds.

In the United States, average cholesterol levels have decreased significantly from 1999 -2 000 to 2013 -2 014, according to the study, published today( Nov. 30) in a research letter in the periodical JAMA Cardiology.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that they are able build up in blood vessels and increase a person’s danger for heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the body needs some cholesterol to function. For instance, HDL( high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol, carries cholesterol to the liver so that it can be flushed from the body, the CDC says.[ Heart of the Matter: 7 Things to Know About Your Ticker]

In the study, the researchers focused on three cholesterol measurings: LDL( low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol; triglycerides, which are a type of fat; and total cholesterol. Total cholesterol includes triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.

During the study period, total cholesterol levels in U.S. adults decreased from an average of 204 milligrams per deciliter( mg/ dL) in 1999 -2 000 to an average of 189 mg/ dL in 2013 -2 014, the researchers find. Adults should aim for total cholesterol levels of less than 200 mg/ dL, the CDC says.

Triglycerides also decreased during the study period, from an average of 123 mg/ dL in 1999 -2 000 to an average of 97 mg/ dL in 2013 -2 014, according to the study. A healthy triglyceride level is less than 150 mg/ dL, the CDC says.

For LDL cholesterol, there was a decrease from an average of 126 mg/ dL in 1999 -2 000 to an average of 111 mg/ dL in 2013 -2 014, according to the study. A healthy LDL cholesterol level is less than 100 mg/ dL, according to the CDC.

The researchers noted that the decreases in cholesterol levels were similar in people who were taking cholesterol-lowering drugs and those who were not.

The declines in cholesterol levels over the study period may be attributed to efforts to remove trans fats from foods, the researchers, led by Asher Rosinger, an epidemic intelligence service policeman at the CDC, wrote in the research letter.

Trans-fat consumption has been shown to increase people’s levels of bad cholesterol and lessening their levels of good cholesterol — two changes that they are able increase a person’s risk for heart disease.

Although the Food and Drug Administration did not officially ban trans fats until 2013, by that phase, many food companies and fast-food restaurants had already begun to reduce or remove trans fats from their products. Indeed, the FDA is forecast that between 2003 and 2012, trans-fat intake in the U.S. decreased over 78 percent.

In the study, the researchers looked at data on cholesterol levels collected over eight years of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a government survey that looks at the health and nutrition of Americans. In addition to answering questions, survey participants undergo a physical exam, including devoting a blood sample.

Nearly 40,000 adults in such studies had their total cholesterol levels measured, more than 17,000 adults had their triglyceride levels measured and about 17,000 adults had their LDL cholesterol levels measured, according to the study.

Originally published on Live Science.

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