Confused About LDL, HDL, Cholesterol?
Many people with diabetes are confused about the link between cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and heart disease. Are you confused? These initials sound familiar don’t they? You need to know the difference between them all in order to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. If you think they are all the same..Read on!
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is fatty waxy material that our body makes. Also, we get it from eating saturated fatty foods (mostly from mammals and birds). To many people with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and poor blood circulation cholesterol is a villain that does bad things to our bodies. To people with normal blood cholesterol levels cholesterol is a hero for all of the good things it does for our bodies — even if these people do not know the benefits of cholesterol. cholesterol is really both villain and hero.
the Villain when there is too much in your blood.
As a villain
cholesterol is a very dangerous material that causes high blood pressure, heart attacks and
- High blood pressure develops this way: Imagine high blood cholesterol being very much like a snow storm on a single lane road. As more and more snow falls, it builds up and becomes crusty. Now, imagine cars traveling on that unscraped mile long road with no exits. The cars in the front are forced to go slow. The cars in the back have to go even slower.
- Stroke happens this way. Imagine somewhere down the same street with 2 feet of compacted snow. A car near the front of the mile long street, crashed into another and causes a bad 5 car pile up. Traffic comes to a dead stop. Any important business that depends on someone in the cars arriving on time is in serious trouble.
- Heart attack happens this way: Imagine a car in the middle of the pack with a crazy driver who has to get to work or lose his job. He has to go forward but his old car is stuck. He rides the accelerator hard for 25 minutes. The car is straining, the tires are smoking — All of a sudden he hears a loud POW, the car shakes, the engine stops and red lights come on.
Cholesterol is the Hero when your blood has the right amount.
As a hero cholesterol is a very important material that help the body operate normally. Cholesterol is the:
- Strengthening mesh present in cell walls or membranes everywhere in the body, including the brain, nerves, muscle, skin, liver, intestines, and heart. It controls much of what enters and leaves the cells.
- Raw material use to make bile acids that help digest fats in the intestines.
- Raw material use to make Vitamin D, and hormones, like estrogen in women and testosterone in men.
What Cholesterol is Not
Cholesterol is not HDL, LDL, or VLDL. Cholesterol has to be all wrapped up in webbing made of lipoproteins. This is a combination of fat plus protein that carries the cholesterol in the blood (blood cholesterol) to its destination. The big secret to remember is these carriers are made up of different amounts of protein. Remember, the more protein, the higher the density of the carrier and makes a stronger webbing:
- HDL – High density lipoprotein – Let’s say ‘H’ stands for “hero” cholesterol because it does good things. HDL carries old cholesterol from the blood, organs, and tissues to the liver for recycling and disposal. When your body produces more HDL, it cleans more cholesterol from the blood and lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- LDL – Low density lipoprotein – Let’s say ‘L’ stands for “lousy” cholesterol carrier because it is bad. LDL carries the new cholesterol (most) in the blood from the liver, intestines, skin to all of the cells in the body that make up the organs and tissues. LDL is lighter than HDL because LDL it has less protein is less rugged than HDLs. Therefore, LDLs break apart easily and drop cholesterol on the artery wall. This causes the blockage. So, the more LDL you have the more cholesterol there is to deposit inside the arteries – This raises your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- VLDL – Very low density lipoprotein – is lighter than LDL and more dangerous because it drops more cholesterol on the walls of blood vessels and greatly raises your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Note: chylomicron is a new player in artery disease. Chylomicrons (very low density lipoprotein), are even lighter than LDLs. According to Dr. Spencer Proctor a nutritional researcher, chylomicrons are broken bits of cholesterol and fat that gather on the walls of arteries and may be as dangerous or more dangerous than low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in greatly raising your risk of heart attack and stroke.
How Do You Lower Cholesterol?
There are many methods used to reduce the total cholesterol in the body. Few are free of side effects:
- Eat meats that have little saturated fat. This will reduce your LDL levels. Eat fish and foods that contain unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats remain liquid at room temperature.
- Exercising hard causes the body to produce more HDL carriers.
- Eat a diet high in soluble fiber, like oat bran, XXX, etc. Soluble fiber binds to bile acids and are excreted from the body. This will reduce your LDL cholesterol numbers.
- Eat foods fortified with psyllium. Fiber reduces cholesterol absorption and reduces LDL numbers.
- Supplementation and Nutraceuticals (foods with ingredients that have health benefits)
- Take niacin supplements, useful dosage cause problems with liver. Talk with your doctor about dosage.
- Oat bran for its dietary fiber
- Eat foods fortified with psyllium
- Medication (If you must)
- Take statin drugs, like Lipitor, Crestor, and Mevacor. They prevent the creation of cholesterol by the body. Potential for muscle pain and wasting disease.
Now that you know the difference between HDL, LDL, and cholestrol, and what causes high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes — do something about it. Exercise to raise your HDL level. Eat less saturated fats to reduce your intake of LDL cholesterol. Eat more oats, vegetables and fruits to increase your dietary fiber. And if your doctor recommends you take statin drugs — Do it. Too much cholesterol becomes too much of a problem.