Understanding the Difference Between “Good” and “Bad” Cholesterol
By now, we’ve all heard about the importance of keeping our cholesterol levels low. Elevated cholesterol levels lead to hardened arteries and coronary heart disease. When left untreated, a person with high cholesterol may even suffer from a stroke. While it’s common knowledge that high cholesterol is not good for your health, cholesterol itself is often misunderstood.
Our bodies make about 75% of the cholesterol required to maintain important processes such as the formation of cell membranes. The other 25% is supplied by dietary cholesterol. However, according to WebMD, most Americans consume far more dietary cholesterol than they need. Overconsumption of cholesterol-rich foods puts people at risk for cardiovascular problems.
It may come as a surprise that some forms of cholesterol are considered “good” for your health while others are considered “bad.” High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) are the good form of cholesterol. This type of cholesterol has the right balance of lipids and proteins that allow it to move through the body efficiently offering the body positive benefits along the way.
Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) are the type of cholesterol that is considered poor for the body. LDLs contain far more cholesterol than protein, and this lipid-protein combination is bad news for your health since it does not move through the body efficiently. LDLs tend to stick to the arterial walls reducing arterial blood flow.
When there is proper balance between HDLs and LDLs within the body, HDLs are able to move LDLs along through your body. However, when this balance is thrown off and there are more bad LDLs in your body than good HDLs, your heart health will suffer.
If your body is out of balance and you are suffering from high cholesterol levels, there is good news. With a change in your daily diet that reduces the amount of dietary cholesterol you consume and regular physical activity, you will be able to get back on track to improved heart health.
If you are interested in natural ways to lower your cholesterol make an appointment to see one of our dietitians and nutritionists.
For more information read our dietitian Belinda’s article about managing high cholesterol levels by healthier eating – Click here.