Your body produces cholesterol, a waxy, fat-like substance, but it's also is found in certain foods. If you eat too much of the wrong kind of foods, you can develop high blood cholesterol, which increases the odds of getting coronary heart disease.

Plaque comprised of cholesterol and other substances builds up in the arteries and causes a condition called atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). As the plaque hardens coronary arteries narrow and the amount of oxygen-rich blood reaching the heart muscle is limited. At this point, an individual is at an increased risk for both stroke and heart attack.

The good news is that it's possible to change this unfortunate scenario. Eating right, getting regular physical exercise, and making other healthy lifestyle changes can lower cholesterol, and thus an individual's risk of heart disease.

Here's a look at cholesterol by the numbers:

17: Percentage of the U.S. adult population that has high blood cholesterol.

75: Percentage of cholesterol that is made by the liver and other cells in the body.

200: Maximum daily number of milligrams of dietary cholesterol recommended if you have cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or a high LDL "bad" cholesterol.

300: Maximum daily number of milligrams of dietary cholesterol that's recommended if you are healthy.

25 to 35: Maximum percentage of your daily calories that should come from all fats, including saturated, trans, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

25: Percentage of cholesterol that comes from the foods we eat.

1: Maximum percentage of total dietary calories that should come from trans fats, according to the American Heart Association.

186: Milligrams of dietary cholesterol in one egg.

20: The age at which people with no risk factors of high cholesterol should begin having their levels checked at least once every five years, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

9 to 12: Number of hours prior to a cholesterol test that people should refrain from eating or drinking in order to ensure the most accurate reading.

616,000: Number of Americans who died from heart disease in 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

7: Maximum percentage of how many of your daily calories should come from saturated fat (that found in meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, deep-fried and processed foods).

55: Age at which women usually stop having lower LDL cholesterol levels than men; after age 55, women can have higher LDL levels than men.

200: Number of milligrams under which your total cholesterol should be in order to be considered desirable; 200 to 239 mg/dL is borderline high and 240 mg/dL is high.




High cholesterol. Are chicken eggs good or bad for my cholesterol?

American Heart Association. Know Your Fats

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart Disease Facts

American Heart Association. About Cholesterol.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About High Blood Cholesterol

Liver Production of Cholesterol HDL in the Body

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Heart Disease. Heart Disease Facts.