The main purpose of writing this post is to burst a myth regarding CHOLESTEROL as most people think of it in a negative way. Infact it plays a vital role in the functioning of body. Your doctor may have advised you to lower your cholesterol level in order to keep your heart healthy. Yes it is true but not completely. Cholesterol itself is not bad…infact, not all cholesterol is bad for the body. Confused ??
Let me make the things clear. Before going further, better to understand what cholesterol is.
It is a waxy, fat like substance which is naturally manufactured in the body, primarily by liver but can also be taken in form of food like meat, eggs and dairy products.
It is packaged inside an envelope of lipids(fat) with specific proteins on the inside to make up particles called lipoprotein. Cholesterol is oil-based and does not mix with the blood, which is water-based. So these lipoproteins act as transport vehicles and help in carrying different types of fats such as cholesterol, triglycerides.
FUNCTIONS OF CHOLESTEROL IN OUR BODY
- Aids in the production of hormones like estrogen, testosterone and adrenal hormones.
- Helps in digestion by creating bile.
- Helps in maintaining healthy cell membranes.
- Acts as a precursor for the biosynthesis of vitamin D in the body.
Everyone age 20 or older should get it checked once every 5 years. This test is Lipoprotein profile which measures,
- Total cholesterol (the total amount of cholesterol in your blood)
- HDL (high density lipoprotein)
- LDL (low density lipoprotein)
- Triglycerides (another fatty substance found in the body)
This is so deeply ingrained in our mind that it is bad for health but in reality it is not. Cholesterol is both our FRIEND and FOE. Check out how –
GOOD CHOLESTEROL ( HDL)
High density lipoprotein is considered the GOOD cholesterol because having high levels can reduce the risk for heart diseases. HDL removes or cleans up the excess LDL( cholesterol and triglycerides) out of the cells, including the cells in the artery. It then reduces, reuses and recycles LDL by taking it back to the liver where it is broken down. So in this way, HDL works as a “Cholesterol Scavengers”.
There is an inverse relationship between HDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. In other words, high level of HDL cholesterol are associated with low risk of heart disease and low level are linked to high risk.
Sometimes, people with normal HDL cholesterol can have heart problems and people with low HDL levels can have healthy heart. So cholesterol is not only responsible for causing heart diseases. There are several other factors like obesity, high B.P., smoking, diabetes etc., contribute to heart problems.
INCLUDE these foods to increase GOOD Cholesterol (HDL)
- Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats found in olives, peanuts and canola oils.
- Cold water fishes like salmon and sardines which are high in omega 3- fatty acids protect against heart diseases.
- Nuts like almonds and pistachios contain powerful antioxidants, lutein which not only increases HDL but it can also decrease LDL. Make sure to choose raw or dry roasted, unsalted varieties.
- Fibre rich foods like oatmeal, barley, yam, fruits and vegetables.
- Protein rich plant foods like legumes and beans.
BAD CHOLESTEROL (LDL)
Low density lipoprotein is known to be a BAD cholesterol because having high levels can lead to plaque build up in arteries and result in heart diseases. Some LDL cholesterol tends to get deposit in the walls of blood vessel and forms a thick, hard plaque that clogs the arteries and make them less flexible( hard and narrow). It further leads to a disease called ATHEROSCLEROSIS. LDL are referred to as BAD as they transport their content of fat molecules into artery walls, attract macrophages and thus drive atherosclerosis.
LDL particles tend to be less dense than other kinds of cholesterol particles. When high in number, they show no sign and symptoms so it is very essential to keep them within certain limits and get them checked timely.
AVOID these foods that increase BAD Cholesterol (LDL)
Saturated and Trans fat like :
- Fatty meats (Sausages, Salami and Red meat)
- Snack foods (Chips, Namkeen, Cake, cookies, Pastries etc.)
- Most takeaway foods especially deep fried foods.
- Egg Yolks.
- Dairy products made from whole milk (cheese, butter)
ALSO READ : Tips To Control Sugar Cravings (SWEET TOOTH)
Now I would like to tell u in brief about TRIGLYCERIDES
It is another type of fat, attached to the proteins in your blood. It is used to store excess calories and carbohydrates from your diet into fat cells.
The combination of high levels of triglycerides with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol increases your risk for heart attack and stroke.
In nutshell, too much of one type or not enough of another, can put you at risk for coronary heart diseases and stroke. So it is very important to have normal or healthy levels of both types (HDL and LDL) of cholesterol.
Liver produces roughly 75% of cholesterol in human body. Remaining 25% comes from the food we eat.