What is cholesterol exactly?
Cholesterol is a substance in our cells that helps produce cell membranes, increases mental function (thoughts, memories, learning), helps our body digest fats, and it acts as a precursor to vitamin D and steroid hormones.
-An important type of cholesterol is called lipoprotein,which is made of 2 main components, LDL's and HDL's, and also made of triglycerides.
What are LDL's and HDL's and how are they different?
LDL's are Low-Density Lipoproteins and HDL's are High-Density Lipoproteins.
First and most of all, the functions and structures of LDL and HDL is very different.
-Functionally, LDL's transport all the cholesterol to the cells in the body, they are like the delivery service for cholesterol. HDL's remove any extra/excess LDL left in the blood (since LDL's contribute to plaque in the bloodstream), HDL's are like the clean up crew of the body.
-LDL's are made up of 50% cholesterol and 25% protein and contains many B-100 proteins. Unlike HDL where only 20% of the makeup is cholesterol and 50% is protein, and HDL contains mostly A-1 and A-11 proteins.
Why are LDL's and HDL's important?
-If LDL levels are high, it can cause atherosclerosis (clogged arteries). It could also possibly cause peripheral artery disease (build up of plaque cutting off blood supply to legs).
To reduce LDL levels you can...
- Limit intake of saturated and trans fats
- Eat fiber rich foods
- Lose weight
-If HDL levels get to low, then it increases the risk for heart disease since the HDL is not there to clean up excess LDL.
To increase HDL levels you can...
- No smoking
- Cut sugar intake
How do different fats affect my cholesterol levels?
- Fish and fish oil
- Plant food/oils
- Olive and canola oil
-Saturated and trans fats raise blood cholesterol which increases the risk for heart disease.
- Butter and shortening
- Fat on meat
- Coconut oil
- Pre-packaged items
- Fried foods
How do I know what to do? If my cholesterol is low or high?
7 Ways to Raise HDL Cholesterol | Everyday Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/high-cholesterol-pictures/how-to-raise-hdl-cholesterol.aspx#08
Good vs. Bad Cholesterol. (2016, March 23). Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/Good-vs-Bad-Cholesterol_UCM_305561_Article.jsp#.VvhcbuIrLIU
Lowering Cholesterol Naturally - 6 Tips | Pritikin Longevity Center. (n.d.). Retrieved March 27, 2016, from https://www.pritikin.com/your-health/health-benefits/lower-cholesterol/1468-7-tips-for-improving-your-ldl-cholesterol.html
Saturated Fats Trans Fats and Unsaturated Fats. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/fats.shtml