By: Cindy Mitchell
What is Cholesterol
There seems to be a lot of confusion concerning cholesterol and the “good” and “bad” aspects of it. Let’s explore what this is all about. Cholesterol is a vital substance because it is a fundamental building block of the body. Every cell of our bodies is made of cholesterol, fatty acids (in the form of triglycerides), and proteins, among other things. Cholesterol is found in the walls of our cells and is essential to them. It is also found in our bile. Our bodies produce bile as a sort of glue that helps digest fats. Without bile (and its component cholesterol) we would simply not digest fat and the nutrients contained in fat. Cholesterol is the starting material that produces sex hormones and all our oil-soluble vitamins (A,D,K, and E), and we simply would die without it.
How Does It Work
Cholesterol is transported throughout the body in particles called chylomicrons, VLDL, LDL, and HDL. The first two of these particles transport triglycerides and the latter two transport cholesterol. The difference between LDL and HDL is significant. LDL carries cholesterol to the cells of the body and HDL carries cholesterol away. If you think of LDL as a delivery truck and HDL as a “pick-up” service, you’re looking at it correctly.
None of these particles are bad or good. They each have a job to do. However, I believe any of these particles, if small enough, will lodge in the walls of our arteries and create inflammation. Inflammation in the arterial wall attracts constituents of our immune system called macrophages, which try to destroy the inflammation caused by the embedded particle. Once this occurs, the residual particle and macrophage become forever lodged in the wall and plazue begins to form. Enough plaque and you eventually have heart disease.
What You Can Do
If you are worried about heart health and cardiovascular disease, focus on lowering the number of particles is probably the best idea, and to do that, you should eat a balanced diet that is low in simple carbohydrates (which convert to these particles). If you eat healthy and avoid simple carbs, you will ultimately affect the number of particles in your blood, and that is good for you in the long run.
Happy Health to you