Are you just about done with everyone's “obsession” with cholesterol and its surrounding myths? Do you already know that cholesterol is not all bad, in fact there is “good” cholesterol?
Let’s review the most common cholesterol myths and discover what
healthy lifestyle choices can increase your body’s “good” cholesterol levels.
Although cholesterol is an actual molecule, what it is bound to while it's floating through your blood is what's more important than just how much of it there is overall. In fact, depending on what it's combined with can have opposite effects on your arteries and heart!
Cholesterol is just one component of a compound that floats around your blood. These compounds contain cholesterol as well as fats and special proteins called “lipoproteins”. They're grouped into two main categories:
So, “cholesterol” isn't simply cholesterol because it has very different effects on your body depending on which other molecules it's bound to in your blood and what it is actually doing there.
Cholesterol is absolutely necessary for your body to produce critical things like vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun, your sex hormones (e.g. estrogen and testosterone), as well as bile to help you absorb dietary fats. Not to mention that it's incorporated into the membranes of your cells.
The overall amount of cholesterol in your blood (AKA “total cholesterol”) isn't nearly as important as how much of each kind you have in your blood.
While way too much LDL cholesterol as compared with HDL (the LDL:HDL ratio) may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease it is absolutely not the only thing to consider for heart health.
Most of the cholesterol in your blood is made by your liver. It's actually not from the cholesterol you eat.
What you eat still can affect how much cholesterol your liver produces. After a cholesterol-rich meal your liver doesn't need to make as much.
As with almost everything in health and wellness there's a balance that needs to be maintained. There are very few extremes that are going to serve you well.
People with too-low levels of cholesterol have increased risk of death from other non-heart-related issues like certain types of cancers, as well as suicide.
Don't start or stop any medications without talking with your doctor.
And while drugs can certainly lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol they don't seem to be able to raise the “good” HDL cholesterol all that well.
Guess what does?
Nutrition and exercise!
One of the most impactful ways to lower your cholesterol with diet is to eat lots of fruits and veggies, up to 10 servings a day. Every day.
Other ways include: exercise, maintain optimal weight, avoid smoking, add high quality fats to your diet, and avoid over-processed hydrogenated “trans” fats.In summary, the science of cholesterol and heart health is complicated and we're learning more every day. You may not need to be as afraid of it as you are. And there is a lot you can do from a nutrition and lifestyle perspective to improve your cholesterol level.
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Stay Ever Well,
Lynne + Renee