Understanding cholesterol, the good and bad. Good cholesterol vs. bad cholesterol.
Cholesterol. Everybody has it. We need it to live. But too much of it will lead to our demise. So… we need to understand what it is, how it affects us, and how to live with it… hopefully for a long, long time.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a soft, waxy material found in your circulating blood. Your body needs cholesterol and produces it naturally in order to help build and maintain your cells. But too much cholesterol can build up, attaching to your artery walls causing clogging.
Your liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs, but the problem is that we take in more cholesterol in the foods we eat like meat, eggs, butter and other fatty foods. It’s this excess that causes the problem in our circulation. Our bodies can’t handle this excess so it floats around, building up until eventually it can cause blockages. See: Cholesterol Alert
Our bodies make two kinds of cholesterol and it’s important to know the difference because one kind is good for us and the other, in excess, is really bad.
The good cholesterol is HDL (think H for Healthy)
The bad cholesterol is LDL (think L for Lethal)
LDL (lethal) cholesterol is the bad guy. It can contribute to the formation of plaque buildup in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis (heart disease.) So you want your LDL level to be low.
LDL (low density lipoproteins) carries cholesterol throughout the body delivering it to the different organs and tissues. But when your body has enough LDL in its organs, the cholesterol just keeps circulating until it starts to build up, gets denser and smaller until it pushes under the artery wall. Deposits of these LDL cholesterol particles are called plaques and they build up in the vessel until blood flow is obstructed, causing coronary artery disease.
Many people have coronary artery disease and don’t even know it. There are no symptoms until the blockages are severe. Heart attacks and strokes are the result.
HDL (healthy) cholesterol is the good guy. It prevents fatty buildup and the formation of plaque. So you want high levels of HDL.
HDL (high density lipoproteins) is the good cholesterol because it acts as the clean-up crew in your arteries. It takes excess cholesterol back to your liver for disposal. The higher your HDL, the less bad (LDL) cholesterol you’ll have in your blood.
So when should we start worrying about our cholesterol levels?
Now. Even teenagers have cholesterol built up in their arteries and it continues to build up over time all the years of our lives. So now is a perfect time to get your cholesterol levels checked and start on a program to be in control.
No smoking, exercise, less fat in the diet is the way to a longer, healthier life.
See: Lower Your Cholesterol with the Mediterranean Diet and Top 5 Foods for Lower Cholesterol
© Consumer Guide by David Sullivan