Friday, April 26, 2013

What Actually is Cholesterol?

The first step to defeating cholesterol is understanding what it is. Cholesterol is defined medically as “a waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver and other cells and found in certain foods, such as food from animals, like dairy products, eggs, and meat.” Cholesterol does not occur in plant based foods. The body needs a certain amount of cholesterol for proper hormone production and to digest fats. But an excessive amount of cholesterol can lead to heart disease. When cholesterol builds up in the arteries, it becomes a plaque on the artery walls, giving blood a smaller space to circulate. This is causes high blood pressure and can lead to blockages that cause heart attacks.

Not all cholesterol is created equal. Cholesterol moves through the blood attached to proteins, and these duos of protein and cholesterol are called lipoproteins.
·         High density lipoproteins (HDL) –This is the good cholesterol. HDL cholesterol actually helps reduce the amount of the bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood. The more HDL you have, the better.

·         Low density lipoproteins – (LDL) – LDL is the bad cholesterol that leads to build up of plaque in the arteries, leading to heart disease.

·         Triglycerides – Triglycerides are similar to cholesterol because they are a type of fat carried though the bloodstream by a low density protein. Alcohol, sugar, and extra calories are converted to triglycerides and stored in fat cells.[1]

Some doctors today believe Omega 3 (Fish Oil) may actually play a role in helping reduce high triglycerides and are prescribing elevated doses of Omega 3 to lower LDL ,ask your health care provider if Omega 3 is right for you. The traditional advice is to avoid saturated fats, found in things like meat, butter, and cheese. Also regular exercise lowers your level of LDL cholesterol, and raises your level of HDL.

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