Cholesterol is naturally produced by our bodies and we also get cholesterol from some fatty foods that we eat, the question is, do we need cholesterol?
The answer is of course we do! but what does high cholesterol mean and what does high cholesterol do?
Thank you for reading this, like me I’m sure that you care about your health,cholesterol has a vital role to play in our bodies and the first step is to find out what does cholesterol do and what does cholesterol mean?
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of waxy substance, it doesn’t start off being “bad” it plays a big part in your body in building cells, however too much cholesterol poses a problem.
Where does cholesterol come from?
There are two sources of cholesterol production, one is your liver where all the cholesterol that you need comes from, the remaining cholesterol comes from animal foods, think meat, poultry as well as full fat dairy products, this type of cholesterol is known as dietary cholesterol.
All these foods are very high in saturated fats that cause the liver to produce more cholesterol than it normally would through the liver. This extra cholesterol causes normal cholesterol levels to become elevated and that isn’t healthy. One other food source that may trigger the liver to produce more cholesterol is palm kennel, palm oil & coconut oil often used in baked products.
Why does cholesterol matter?
Cholesterol is present in your blood as it circulates around the arterial system, when the amount of cholesterol increases a corresponding rise in a risk to your health also happens, so it is a good idea to get your cholesterol checked by a blood lipid test to find out your cholesterol levels.
Good and bad cholesterol
We have two different types of cholesterol, one is LDL cholesterol the bad one and the other is HDL which is the good one. A balance is needed because too much LDL or not enough HDL cholesterol can increase the risk of it sticking to the walls of the blood vessels and may cause an obstruction to the heart or the brain.
Cholesterol joins together with plaque and other fatty deposits to form a hardness to the inside of your arteries, this may make the arteries narrower and less flexible, this is a condition called atherosclerosis. The worst that can happen is a heart attack or stroke when a blood clot forms and blocks the blood flow to a major organ.
Now you can see why it is important to keep a check on your cholesterol, if they are high you need to change your diet to a low fat one, improve your physical activity and if you need to go to your doctor for help that is what you do.
High cholesterol contributes in a major way to coronary heart disease, heart attack or stroke, it is controllable other risk factors would be high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking, a history of family heart disease is also a contributing factor.
Your doctor can explain to you what your cholesterol results mean, your cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams per decilitre of blood, the total cholesterol level HDL & LDL are taken into account when measuring the risk factors of a ten year risk of a heart attack or stroke, the other risk factors are your age, your family history, high blood pressure and smoking. The full cholesterol test is known as a lipoprotein or a lipid profile, the results will show your good (HDL) levels and your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels as well as triglycerides and the total blood cholesterol (serum)
Good cholesterol (HDL)
Over the year’s doctors have used a cholesterol range to calculate good cholesterol levels. The thinking has now changed whereby doctors now look at heart disease risks in much broader terms’ levels are evaluated in context with other risk factors.
A person with elevated triglycerides will have a lower level of (HDL) good cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, smoking, genetic and weight issues are factors in lowering HDL levels. Men are known to have lower levels of good cholesterol when compared to women.
Bad cholesterol (LDL)
We know that LDL is bad cholesterol so lower levels of LDL is thought off as good for a healthy heart.
Just like good cholesterol levels doctors rely on defined levels of LDL when considering risks for heart disease, this is supported by the American Heart Association as a more integrative approach, diets that contain trans-fat are unhealthy because they effect and raise LDL cholesterol levels.
What are Triglycerides?
Fat exists mainly in a chemical form known as Triglycerides, it is in our foods as well as our bodies.
Triglyceride levels will vary depending on age and sex, it is known that people with high cholesterol often have high triglyceride levels as well as high bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower good cholesterol (HDL) a lot of people with cardiovascular disease or diabetes display high triglyceride levels.
There are several factors that add to elevated triglyceride levels, such as:
- Not being active enough
- Too much alcohol
- High carbohydrate diet
All of these factors are within our control and can be changed with lifestyle choices, genetic and other underlying disorders can lead to higher triglyceride levels.
Several factors can contribute to an elevated triglyceride level, including:
Total cholesterol score
The overall cholesterol is looked at after the blood test results, it is worked out by adding up the good HDL levels to the bad LDL levels + twenty per cent of the triglyceride levels. Basically, normal levels aren’t as important as the overall risk of cardiovascular disease when other known factors are considered.
Have you high cholesterol levels?
Perhaps you have been for a blood test and the results show that your total cholesterol level is high, have you been told by tour doctor to take prescription drugs (statin) to lower your LDLs? These statin drugs usually work to bring down cholesterol levels but if used over a long period of time the side effects can be quite damaging. To read more on the side effects of long term use of statin drugs Click Here.
Drugs versus supplements for lowering cholesterol
If you read the scientific articles about long term use of statin drugs you will find a large list of reported side effects, you can also read scientific articles showing that long term use of drugs is fine, I wonder who funded those trials, it wouldn’t be a drug company would it? this is the list of reported side effects of long term use of statin drugs, personally I’m more in favour of using supplements to lower cholesterol, the side effects are minimal compared to taking drugs plus supplements are plant based and in most cases so they are natural.
Click here to read how I lowered my cholesterol by 50%
Considering what we know about the side efects of taking statin drugs it is up to each individual to decide DRUGS or SUPPLEMENTS to lower cholesterol