Thursday, 17 January 2013

Understanding Cholesterol

“Eating properly is great. I mean you cut the fat down, cut the cholesterol out, but still you got to get your rest and you got to have some form of exercise”
Mike Ditka

It may surprise you to know that cholesterol itself isn't bad. In fact, cholesterol is just one of the many substances created and used by our bodies to keep us healthy. Some of the cholesterol we need is produced naturally (and can be affected by your family health history), while some of it comes from the food we eat.
There are two types of cholesterol:
·         LDL (bad) cholesterol  and
·         HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides
Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like substance found in the bloodstream and in all your body's cells. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL or 'bad') cholesterol can join with fats and other substances to build up in the inner walls of your arteries. The arteries can become clogged and narrow, and blood flow is reduced. High-density lipoprotein (HDL or 'good') carries harmful cholesterol away from the arteries and helps protect you from heart attack and stroke.  

It's important to understand the difference, and to know the levels of "good" and "bad" cholesterol in your blood. Too much of one type — or not enough of another — can put you at risk for the following heart diseases:

·         coronary heart disease
·         heart attack 
·         strokes

As your blood cholesterol rises, so does your risk of coronary heart disease. If you have other risk factors such as high blood pressure or diabetes as well as high cholesterol, this risk increases even more.

Understanding Cholesterol: How to Stay Within the Healthy Range

High cholesterol has been associated with poor health and an increased risk of heart disease for the last two decades. This idea immediately spawned myths about saturated fats, which demonized certain categories of food, like eggs and healthy oils. Most physicians will advise you to keep your cholesterol levels as low as possible, or else suffer serious complications.
But did you know that high cholesterol is not necessarily a precursor to poor health nor is it an indicator of heart disease?  Conventional doctors neglect to tell you the truth: your body NEEDS cholesterol. And there are far better indicators of your heart health than just your total cholesterol level.
Back to Basics: What is the Purpose of Cholesterol?
About 75 percent of the cholesterol in your body is produced in your liver, while the other 25 percent is obtained from the foods you eat. This soft, waxy substance is essential for the production of:
·         Cell membranes
·         Hormones
·         Bile acids (for fat metabolism)
·         Vitamin D
Cholesterol also contributes to the formation of your memories and is crucial for your neurological function. Cholesterol also affects the formation of serotonin, a hormone that is involved in your mood regulation.
Studies have found that people with insufficient levels of cholesterol have a higher chance of developing depression and suicidal thoughts, while others may experience an increased capacity for violence and aggression. In extreme cases, low cholesterol can raise your risk of cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
A rise in cholesterol levels, on the other hand, occurs in response to damaged cells. A high amount of this substance in your bloodstream just proves that your body is working to repair or create new cells.
Statins: A Drug That's Actually Bad for You
Having elevated levels of cholesterol is not a disease that requires statins, yet millions are taking them as we speak. It is unfortunate that Americans are led to believe that this class of cholesterol-lowering drugs is the answer to normalizing cholesterol levels, when there over 900 studies documenting their adverse effects.
For instance, statins also deplete your CoQ10 levels. CoQ10 or Coenzyme Q10 is a substance that plays a crucial role in the creation of your ATP molecules needed for cellular energy production. Other than the side effects brought by statins, CoQ10 deficiency can also yield to a number of complications, including heart failure.
Unfortunately, conventional doctors oftentimes immediately base judgment on numbers and prescribe dangerous statins, which ironically puts your heart health at risk.
Cholesterol shouldn't be feared to the point that you need toxic drugs to suppress it. Rather, the key is to understand how cholesterol works to know how to stay within an optimal range. It's time to shatter the myths surrounding cholesterol and statins!

Share this infographic with your friends and family, and help them take control of their health:

Top 10 Cholesterol Lowering Foods:
High cholesterol has been linked to heart disease and stroke. While exercise and a healthy lifestyle are important factors when trying to lower your cholesterol, making modifications to your diet can help too. Cut back on saturated and trans fats found in some meats, oils, packaged cookies, crackers and cakes, and add a mix of cholesterol lowering foods. Here are the top 10 foods that can help.
Because fibre helps to absorb cholesterol from your intestines, oatmeal and oat bran can lower your low-density lipoprotein, LDL, which is the bad cholesterol. Aim for 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day, which is the equivalent of 1-1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal with a banana mixed in.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, eating a handful of walnuts, almonds, pecans or most other nuts can reduce your cholesterol. Nuts help to decrease cholesterol in the blood while keeping vessels elastic and healthy.
Some fish, particularly salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and albacore tuna, have been linked with lowering cholesterol because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 also helps to reduce blood pressure and the chance of blood clots.

Olive Oil
Olive oil can reduce your LDL and maintain your HDL (good cholesterol). You can choose to cook with olive oil, use it as salad dressing and substitute butter with it. Extra virgin olive oil has the most benefit because it is processed less and therefore contains more antioxidants.
Apples contain a powerful ability to absorb cholesterol and clean it out of your bloodstream, according to the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
Beans are a good source of soluble fibre. They are also high in protein, which can replace high-cholesterol foods such as red meat in your diet.
Brown Rice
The oil in brown rice helps to reduce cholesterol. You can combine this with beans and vegetables for a healthy side or main dish.
As little as one-half teaspoon a day can help reduce triglycerides or LDL. Sprinkle it on your oatmeal or apples for a tasty and healthy treat.
Not only can garlic help decrease cholesterol, it can also reduce bacteria, fungi and digestive disorders and keep blood clots from forming.
Soy is found in soy nuts, tofu, soy beans, soy milk and tempeh. The soluble fiber and isoflavones in soy can lower LDL and raise HDL.

American Heart Association

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