What is cholesterol and how does it contribute to disease?
Cholesterol is a soft, waxy lipid that is found in the blood and in all cells in the body. Cholesterol is essential in the body to make cell membranes. There are two forms of cholesterol found in the blood, HDL (good) and LDL (bad). High levels of "bad" cholesterol can build up in the blood stream and contribute to atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart disease and metabolic syndrome. HDL (good) Cholesterol HDL (High Density Lipo-protiens) are carriers of cholesterol in the blood that is most dense and packed with protein. Because it is so dense and packed with protein it has the ability to bind with other types of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood and transport it back to the liver to be re-utilized or excreted by the the body. Therefore low levels of HDL cholesterol poses risks to your health and can be a contributing factor to disease. Raising your HDL could be very beneficial to your health and can be achieved by:
- Aerobic exercise
- Weight loss (if recommended)
- Smoking cessation
- Removing trans fats from the diet
- One drink of alcohol can raise HDL (if recommended)
- Adding soluble fiber to the diet - adding Omega-3 and fish oils through diet or supplements LDL (bad) Cholesterol LDL (Low Density Lipo-protiens) are known as the "bad" particles of cholesterol because the particle are very loosely packed and instead of transporting cholesterol out of the arteries to the liver, they deposit the cholesterol into the artery walls and causing a build- up known as plaque. Therefore high levels of LDL is harmful to your health and can contribute to atherosclerosis, heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
So what if yours levels are off? Unhealthy levels of cholesteol such as low HDL and high LDL is associated with many diseases. One of the most prominent diseases associated with unhealthy cholesterol levels is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can put you at risk for developing more diseases such as: - Coronary Artery Disease (Heart Disease)
- Metabolic Syndrome