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While most people talk about “cholesterol levels” there is in fact more than one type of cholesterol. In fact, there are several different body functions and several different substances that make up our understanding of “cholesterol.”
As with some fats, cholesterol cannot be dissolved in the blood. Instead, molecules called lipoproteins carry cholesterol to and from cells. Molecules are made from an outer layer of protein and an inner core of both cholesterol and triglycerides, which is another form of fat.
The two main types of lipoproteins are:
1) High Density Lipoproteins (HDL.)
• HDL transports cholesterol from cells back to the liver.
• HDL is either reused or converts to bile acids and disposed. This is known as "good" cholesterol.
You want to ensure that your levels of this cholesterol remain high for optimum heart health, since having too low levels of HDL - even when other cholesterol levels are normal - may lead to heart problems. As you work to lower your “bad cholesterol” it is important to also take steps and to keep your HDL levels normal.
• HDL aids to ensure protection from the risk of heart attack and/or stroke. HDL consists of more protein than triglycerides or cholesterol, and aids to remove LDL from your artery walls.
2) Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL.)
• LDL carries approximately 60_70% of cholesterol around the body and are known as “bad" cholesterol.
• Studies show conclusively that high cholesterol leads to much higher risk of heart attack and/or stroke. Other factors involved in this risk are age, gender, smoking, family history of heart disease, and diabetes mellitus.
Obviously, when we speak of having “cholesterol levels” we mean more than one number. To maintain optimum health, you will need to know your levels of both LDL and HDL and will need to work hard to keep both levels in healthy ranges.
As always, before you attempt to self medicate or try a new health regimen or program we suggest you retain the services of a qualified health care professional.
What Is Cholesterol
In order to understand why it is important to lower cholesterol, it is necessary to first understand what cholesterol is. Cholesterol is a fatlike waxy substance and is produced by the liver. Although cholesterol has purposes and is important to overall health and body function, too much cholesterol in the body has damaging effects.
When the cholesterol level is appropriate, it plays a life-giving role in many functions of the body.
Cholesterol forms every cell within the body. When cholesterol is at a good level it works to build and repair cells, produces hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, and produces bile acids which are proven to aid in the digestion of fat.
With too much cholesterol in the body, though, the levels build up and cause damage by clogging your arteries. This puts you at serious risk for disease such as heart and stroke. In fact, the major cause behind heart attacks and strokes is clogged arteries resulting from high levels of cholesterol.
When you eat saturated foods such as dairy, meat and eggs your cholesterol elevates. On the other hand when you eat foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains you can maintain optimal health as they do not contain cholesterol.
High cholesterol can be avoided! With a nutritious diet, the 50% of all adult Americans with high cholesterol can regain their health and lower their risk of disease by 2%. This is done simply from reducing cholesterol by 1%.
Cholesterol can be managed for life with success! It is recommended that you visit your physician on a regular basis to keep a keen eye on your levels.
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Fats & Cholesterol
For years we heard that a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet would keep us healthy and help us lose weight. And many of us jumped on the bandwagon, eliminating fat and high-cholesterol foods from our diets.
Well, unfortunately, we were doing it all wrong.
Before we examine the good fats and bad fats, let’s talk about cholesterol.
Cholesterol - It’s been ingrained into our brains that cholesterol causes heart disease and that we should limit our intake of foods that contain it, but dietary cholesterol is different than blood cholesterol. Cholesterol comes from two places first, from food such as meat, eggs, and seafood, and second, from our body.
Our liver makes this waxy substance and links it to carrier proteins called lipoproteins. These lipoproteins dissolve the cholesterol in blood and carry it to all parts of your body. Our body needs cholesterol to help form cell membranes,some hormones,and Vitamin D.
You may have heard of good and bad cholesterol.Well,high-density lipoproteins (HDL) carry cholesterol from the blood to the liver. The liver processes the cholesterol for elimination from the body.
If there’s HDL in the blood, then less cholesterol will be deposited in the coronary arteries.That’s why it’s called good cholesterol. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL), carry cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. When there is too much in the body, it is deposited in the coronary arteries. This is not good. A build-up of cholesterol in our arteries could prevent blood from getting to parts of our heart. That means that our heart won’t get the oxygen and nutrients it needs, which could result in heart attack, stroke, or sudden death.
So, if your LDL is higher than your HDL, you’re at a greater risk for developing heart disease. It may come as a surprise, but recent studies have shown that the amount of cholesterol in our food is not strongly linked to our blood cholesterol levels.
It’s the types of fats you eat that affect your blood cholesterol levels. Bad Fats - There are two fats that you should limit your intake of.Saturated and trans fats.
Saturated Fats - Saturated fats are mostly animal fats. You find them in meat, whole-milk products, poultry skin, and egg yolks. Coconut oil also has a high amount of saturated fat.
Saturated fats raise both the good and bad blood cholesterol.
Trans Fats - Trans fats are produced through hydrogenation heating oils in the presence of oxygen.Many products contain trans fats because the fats help them maintain a longer shelf life. Margarine also contains a high amount of trans fats.
Trans fats are especially dangerous because they lower the good cholesterol, HDL and raise the bad cholesterol, LDL.Unfortunately, most products do not tell you how much trans fat it contains, but you can find out if it’s in a product by looking at the ingredient list. If the ingredients contain hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils, then it contains trans fats.
Fortunately in 2006, manufacturers will be required to list the amount of trans fat in their products on the nutrition labels, so it will be easier for you to find.
Good Fats - Some fats actually improve cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated Fats - Polyunsaturated fats are found in sunflower, corn, and soybean oils. These oils contain Omega-6, an essential fatty acid. However, most people get enough Omega-6 in their diet and instead need more Omega-3. Omega-3 is a fatty acid found in fish and walnuts.
Monounsaturated Fats - Monounsaturated fats are found in canola, peanut, and olive oils.Both types of unsaturated fats decrease the bad cholesterol, LDL and increase the good cholesterol, HDL.
Now, just because the unsaturated fats improve your blood cholesterol levels, you don’t have the go-ahead to eat all of the olive oil, butter and nuts you want.Fat of any kind does contain calories,and if you’re trying to lose weight, eat fat in moderation, and stay away from saturated fats.
Bruce Reid is an Independent 4Life Distributor,and sells the highest Quality Dietary Supplements tht are available. He also offers a free newsletter published monthly at: http://www.wholebody-dietary-supplements.com
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You may have heard of the “Portfolio Diet” wherein it has been clinically accepted that increasing the intake of soy based foods can reduce levels of LDL cholesterol as much as some statin drugs.
Well, now it seems that soybeans have another health-giving quality: they also reduce blood pressure.
This latest finding is making quite a bit of noise in medical circles and not without reason. Can you imagine how hard the two largest drug markets (cholesterol and blood pressure) would be hit if the American Heart Association or the American College of Cardiology released a statement saying that soybeans can reduce bad cholesterol and control blood pressure? Just think about it. But that’s where it will stop; in your thoughts. With all the lobbying power of the giant pharmaceutical industry, I seriously doubt that such a statement from an internationally recognized source will ever be released.
However, to date more than 40 clinical trials have clearly shown that soya protein can reduce cholesterol in men and women. The effective dose of soy protein per day appears to range between 25 and 50 grams. Now initial studies show that it is also useful in fighting high blood pressure.
Soybean protein lowers blood pressure
In a report from the Annals of Internal Medicine (July 2005), it seems that use of soybean protein dietary supplements may help reduce high blood pressure.
Soybean products have been commonplace in Asian diets for centuries, and soybeans, as well as its derivative products have long been available in our local health stores and supermarkets. Research has shown that food items like tofu and soymilk can reduce cholesterol levels and lower risks for cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. If we add the ability to fight high blood pressure to the list of illness and diseases that soy foods are able to combat, then we might just have a super disease killer on our hands.
In the study covered by the Annals, a group of American and Chinese researchers focused on 300 Chinese patients suffering from hypertension. One group was and given 40gms of soy protein while the second group was given wheat-based carbohydrates.
The objective of the trial was to examine the effect of soybean protein supplementation on blood pressure in persons with pre-hypertension or Stage 1 hypertension. The results showed that Soybean protein supplementation resulted in a reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. As such, increased intake of soybean protein may play an important role in preventing and treating hypertension.
The researchers of Tulane University, New Orleans say it's unclear how soybean products might reduce blood pressure. One theory is that soy proteins widen blood vessels while helping the body do a better job of processing blood sugar.
In a related editorial, Dr. Jeffrey A. Cutler and Dr. Eva Obarzanek of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, state that the new study provides "another important link between blood pressure and dietary macronutrient intake," but add that further studies are needed before soybean supplements can be recommended to patients with high blood pressure.
Soybeans, soymilk, tofu, bean sprouts, meat substitutes, cookies and even soy-based ice cream are all commonly available. Maybe it is better that you don’t wait for the big medical institutions to start singing praises about soybeans. If you want an edge, perhaps now is the time to start making some changes to your diet. Throw in 40 minutes exercise four times a week and your high blood pressure will really take a dive.
Nicholas Webb, of AllAbout Heart Disease, speaks and writes with a passion telling it is as it is; helping others to live life to the full. This article is extracted from his newsletter “The Web’s Heart”.
To subscribe, or read other articles visit http://www.allabout-heart-disease.com/webs-heart-subscribe.html
To learn more about how to beat heart disease and get into shape visit: http://www.AllAbout-Heart-Disease.com
Blood cholesterol is mainly of two types: LDL and HDL cholesterol. Both the types of cholesterol are produced by our body to perform certain functions and are always present in our blood. A total blood cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dL, LDL cholesterol of less than 130 mg/dL and HDL cholesterol more than 35mg/dL are considered good for the health of our heart. The problem arises when our body produces more LDL and total cholesterol and less HDL cholesterol than the above mentioned figures.
What you should do if you have high cholesterol then what? It is not always necessary to take medication. In most cases, both LDL and HDL cholesterol can be improved with regular exercise and eating low fat cholesterol friendly foods.
The cholesterol friendly foods or super foods that actually lower cholesterol include apples, onions, lentils, legumes, oats, walnuts, and olive oil. Research has shown that phytochemicals in apples and onions could help cut the risk of death from heart disease or stroke in half. Phytochemicals found in these foods have potential for protection against heart diasease, stroke and cancer.
Oats contain beta-glucans, a soluble fiber that has been shown to lower cholesterol. Walnuts contain linolenic acid which lowers cholesterol and prevents blood clots. Olive oil contains 77% of monounsaturated fat and has powerful antioxidants, which lowers LDL cholesterol without affecting HDL levels.
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This article has been written by http://www.fatfreekitchen.com/cholesterol/. For more information on how to lower cholesterol naturally, visit the web site http://www.fatfreekitchen.com/lower-cholesterol.html. Please note that this article is not a subsitute for medical advise.
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