The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Aspects of Cholesterol
Although we generally think of cholesterol in a negative way we cannot survive without some cholesterol in our system. It is produced by our liver and is needed to:
Produce Vitamin D
Help in making certain hormones
Build cell walls
Create bile salts(help digest fat)Aï¿½
Besides our body producing its’ own cholesterol we also get it from certain foods that we eat. Our body does produce enough cholesterol on its own, so any extra that we take in through our diet may not always be a good thing. Avoiding food that is high in bad cholesterol can be a challenge in this fast paced society that we live in.
There are two types of cholesterol. There is the good cholesterol which we refer to as HDL and then there is the bad cholesterol which we know as LDL(low density lipoprotein).
Cholesterol needs a way to get to all the cells in your body and the way they do that is through our bloodstream. Proteins first form a shell around the cholesterol and then release it into our blood system allowing it to travel where it is needed.
Any extra cholesterol is just let go into the bloodstream where it keeps circulating and building up. This buildup can eventually clog the blood vessels which will increase the chances for heart disease and stroke.
Keeping these levels of cholesterol or our LDL in check is vital for a healthy life.
The other type of cholesterol found in our system is referred to as HDL or High Density Lipoproteins. This good cholesterol can help prevent atheroma forming. Atheroma is fatty deposits in the arteries which can lead to various cardiovascular diseases. The way HDL helps to prevent these fatty deposits from forming is by taking the extra unwanted cholesterol back to the liver.
In order to maintain a healthy body we need to keep these two types in balance. We need to have a low count for the LDL’s and a high count for the HDL’s.
We can lower our LDL’s through diet. We need to avoid foods high in cholesterol. Many foods that are high in cholesterol are also high in fat content. So a rule of thumb would be that by avoiding fatty foods you are avoiding food high in cholesterol.
Our focus when it comes to cholesterol seems to be on lowering the bad cholesterol or the LDL and not on increasing the HDL’s. A popular opinion as to why that is has to do with the drug companies that produce the medication to help a person lower their cholesterol. Their medications all seem to deal with lowering LDL’s as they have not found an effective way to raise HDL’s through medication.
Two things that you can do to raise your HDL’s is to lose weight and quit smoking. Both of these will help you in your fight against cardiovascular disease.