Let’s discuss about cholesterol and how you could control blood levels

By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer

There was an email going round about a year ago stating that cholesterol has done a U turn-headed article written by Nikki Barr. He posed the question, “Why did the US government accept that cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern, doing a U turn on their warnings?” The readers got the impression that now you could eat cholesterol containing foods more liberally and guilt-free. This is far from the truth.

Let’s get into more nitty gritty about blood cholesterol. Cholesterol in your blood is made up of three different types.

  • High-density lipoprotein or HDL is considered “good” cholesterol. It makes up to about 20-30 percent of the total cholesterol in your blood.

Now how did cholesterol suddenly become a lipoprotein? It is simple to understand.  Remember, cholesterol is a fat and will not dissolve in a watery base like blood.  So in the liver cholesterol in the process of manufacture is combined with a protein which makes it soluble.

  • Low-density lipoprotein or LDL is considered the bad cholesterol, being less dense gets attached to the inner lining of arteries to form humps called plaques. It makes up 60-70 percent of the total in the body.
  • Third variety is still lower in density and called very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) this counts to about 10-15 percent of the total.

Doctors consider the ratio of these three varieties of cholesterol is important for the health and prevention of heart disease.
The optimal ratio between the good and the bad cholesterol is about 3.5 and higher the ratio increases the risk of heart disease
For Men- 5.0 is average risk: and 9.6 is twice the average risk.
Women- 4.4 is average risk and 7.0 is twice the average risk

Another good reason to maintain a healthy ratio of cholesterol is it helps maintain the right levels of vitamin D and other hormones in the body and aids digestion. About 20 % of the cholesterol in your blood stream comes from the food you eat and your liver and intestines make about 80% of your cholesterol

In the liver cholesterol is manufactured through the HMG cycle. 20 percent of the cholesterol comes from the saturated fats you consume in your fatty food.

Unfortunately, even the excess carbs and soluble sugars you consume in beverages, cakes, and other sweets also get stored in the fat cells as triglycerides. Eating too much of carbs, including soluble sugars is an unhealthy addiction. It is as bad as cocaine addiction or it could be worse.

You cannot consume more than 20 percent of the cholesterol in your saturated fats (three eggs a day), but you could consume carbs and soluble sugars ad lib. With no limits and this is where the danger is. Do not eat more than about 100-150 grams per day if you are involved in activities, sedentary people and those who have metabolic problems needs to reduce carbs to 50 grams per day... Eating a low carb diet benefits you in so many ways. In addition to weight loss low carb diets lower your blood sugar level, important for diabetic control, lowers blood pressure and triglycerides. Such diets also raise your HDL and controls the LDL- the bad cholesterol.

There are good carbs and bad carbs. Remove your unhealthy carb sources from your diet, refined wheat, white polished rice, added sugars, among others. Eating too much of carbs especially among the diabetics can cause the ‘metabolic syndrome’

Why is it so important to control your cholesterol (LDL) in your blood? When there is too much of cholesterol in your blood, it adds onto the plaques that are formed due to localised inflammatory changes in the inner lining. This process is named ‘atherosclerosis’. Arteries narrows in such situations and blood flow to the heart muscle is slowed down or blocked.

One would argue that over 60 percent of people who get cardio-vascular disease have a low cholesterol numbers in the blood. It is true, but in those cases other risk factors come into play. Heart disease is a multi-facet disease and not caused by one risk factor alone. Some risk factors can be controlled, such as, obesity, diabetes, cholesterol, stress and so on. The familial and genetic factors cannot be controlled.

As far as our readers are concerned it is important to keep the cholesterol numbers in your blood within the considered normal range.

Conclusions: To maintain a high HDL cholesterol level and lower LDL cholesterol levels in your blood to prevent plaque formation that clogs your arteries and cause cardio-vascular disease focus more on eating less carbs than thinking of the saturated fats in the foods you consume.

At any cost keep you cholesterol numbers within the normal range, to reduce the risk of heart disease and other metabolic situations.

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