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Good Cholesterol Versus Bad Cholesterol

Good Cholesterol Versus Bad Cholesterol
    Cholesterols are a type of fat like substance, also known as lipids, naturally found in the blood, and are required for making hormones, bile acids, and vitamin D. In addition to being formed naturally, Cholesterols are also obtained from the food we eat, and if you eat too much fatty food, you will absorb too much cholesterol – to the point that they start to choke up the arteries, and make it harder for blood to flow to various organs, and increase the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Conventional wisdom, albeit medically unfounded, is that the cholesterols are bad for us, but, as mentioned earlier, they are essential for the production of a lot of useful chemicals in the body. So which understanding is correct? In fact, both of them are. Based on their usefulness, or detriment, the cholesterols can be classified into two categories – Good Cholesterols, and Bad Cholesterols. Convenient, isn’t it!!

    Below is the brief description of the two types:

    Bad Cholesterol

    Also known as Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL), bad cholesterol joins with fat, calcium and other blood substances to form plaque in the arteries, which, as a result, hardens and restrict the flow of the blood to the organs.

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    Good Cholesterol

    Also known as High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL), good cholesterol not only doesn’t cause any damage to the arteries, it actually takes fatty deposits AWAY from the other organs and to the liver, where the harmful fats are eliminated from the body.

    As mentioned earlier, our body can normally produce and process all the cholesterol it needs, certain poor lifestyle choices can tip the balance and raise our cholesterol levels by making our bodies make or absorb cholesterol at a speed greater than the body’s ability to break it down and process it. In particular, the food items that tip this balance include:

    • Egg yolks, meat, dairy products and other food sources rich in Dietary Cholesterol
    • Animal based food such as fatty meat, poultry skin, butter, cheeses, lard, etc. that are rich in Saturated Fats
    • Plant based food products such as palm kernel, coconut oil, and other items high in Saturated Fats
    • Shortening, margarine, snack foods, fast foods and baked goods that are rich in Trans Fats
    • Candy, sodas, and other foods rich in simple carbohydrates can result in unhealthy levels of Triglycerides

    In addition to the above dietary choices, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, excessive consumption of alcohol can also result in unhealthy levels of cholesterol in the blood stream. The good news is, we also have certain food products that can help reduce or control bad cholesterol. These include foods that are:

    High in Mono-Saturated Fats

    Consider replacing your vegetable oil with olive oil and high-oleic safflower oil

    High in Polyunsaturated Vegetable Oils

    Increase your intake of flaxseed, walnuts, canola oils, and soy oils

    High in Poly unsaturated Fish Oils

    Consider increasing your intake of salmon, sardines, and trout

    Low in Dietary Cholesterol and Saturated Fats

    Consider replacing meat, dairy, and poultry with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables

    That said, it should be noted that, apart from diet, there are several other factors as well that determine the cholesterol level. These factors include:

    • Genetics and family history of heart diseases
    • Age, weight, activity level, and lack of physical exercise
    • Lifestyle choices such as smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol
    • Certain illnesses, such as diabetes, which predispose people to develop High Cholesterol

    Unfortunately, since high cholesterol by itself doesn’t have any symptoms, people affected may not always be aware of their affliction. Thus, it is imperative that you get your cholesterol levels checked periodically – preferably at least once a year.

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