All about your cholesterol

Doctors To YouDWC feature, Wellness

Everything You Need to Know About Cholesterol

Cholesterol can be a really confusing topic. Most people don’t know what cholesterol is, if our body needs it, and how we should go about regulating it. Many people assume all cholesterol is bad and they avoid any foods that have cholesterol. Others simply don’t care and eat whatever they want.

However, neither of these approaches are healthy. Your body needs cholesterol to function! But not all cholesterol is created equal. Let’s cut through the confusion and find out what you can do to have the best cholesterol levels possible. Here’s everything you need to know about cholesterol.




Everything You Need to Know About Cholesterol

Cholesterol can be a really confusing topic. Most people don’t know what cholesterol is, if our body needs it, and how we should go about regulating it. Many people assume all cholesterol is bad and they avoid any foods that have cholesterol. Others simply don’t care and eat whatever they want.

However, neither of these approaches are healthy. Your body needs cholesterol to function! But not all cholesterol is created equal. Let’s cut through the confusion and find out what you can do to have the best cholesterol levels possible. Here’s everything you need to know about cholesterol.




What is Cholesterol? (And why should I care?)

Your body naturally produce cholesterol and it plays an important role in how your body functions. Your liver makes cholesterol and your body then uses it for three different processes. First, it is used to help build tissue in your muscles. Second, it helps in the production of sex hormones. Finally, cholesterol also assists your liver in producing bile. While your body does produce cholesterol, you can also get it through animal-based foods like meat and dairy products. However, the problem is that too much cholesterol can lead to health problems.

What is Good and Bad Cholesterol?

There are two main types of cholesterol: HDL and LDL.

HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, is considered good cholesterol. This cholesterol works to keep your cardiovascular system healthy by reducing your LDL cholesterol levels. It helps break down the bad cholesterol by delivering it back to the liver. Your liver then breaks down the LDL cholesterol and it is eliminated from your body. Having high levels of HDL cholesterol has been shown to reduce your risk both strokes and heart attacks.  

LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, is considered bad cholesterol. This is because too much of it can harden your arteries through a buildup of plaque. When there is too much plaque, it can narrow your blood vessels, which means your body cannot get enough oxygen. Too much plague can also cause blood clots, which can cause strokes and heart attacks.

There is another type of cholesterol that is called Remnant Cholesterol. This cholesterol is not something that is normally tested for, however you can find out your remnant cholesterol levels by subtracting your HDL and LDL levels from your total cholesterol number. Remnant cholesterol is made of up both very low-density lipoproteins and intermediate-density lipoproteins. If your remnant cholesterol is high, then you have much higher chance of developing heart disease. Remnant cholesterol is also associated with higher levels of inflammation. 

“Remnant cholesterol is one of the best indicators of mortality, and is very Atherogenic which means it create “plaquing” or problems with the arteries. It is the plasma cholesterol or the cholesterol in the blood that is not HDL or LDL. Too much sugar or insulin could create a lot more extra cholesterol,” says Dr. Berg.

How to Find the Remnant Cholesterol:

Take the total cholesterol and minus your HDL and LDL

  • Less than 17: Optimal
  • 18 – 23: Okay
  • 24 – 29: Concerning
  • Greater than 30: Very Concerning

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How Does Diet Affect Cholesterol Levels?

Since your body already produces enough cholesterol, you don’t need to consume large quantities of it. In fact, lowering the amount of foods you eat that are high in cholesterol can help keep your LDL and remnant cholesterol levels low. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and never eat foods that have trans-fat. Instead, look for healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids. Increasing your soluble fiber intake will also help your body absorb cholesterol so that your HDL levels will rise.

In addition to eating a better diet, you can also improve your cholesterol by living a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, moderate alcohol consumption, and no smoking. Many times, these habits will lead to weight loss, another factor that can improve your cholesterol.

Understanding what cholesterol is and how it affects you is the first step in improving your cholesterol levels. Eating a healthy diet full of plant-based foods and avoiding foods that are high in saturated fat will help you lower dangerous cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart disease.

If you’re very worried about your cholesterol, then visit your doctor to have our cholesterol levels checked. Once you know what your levels are, you’ll know what steps to take to ensure that you have healthy cholesterol levels.

So what exactly is on your plate?

To help keep your cholesterol in check, load up on nuts, especially almonds and walnuts, and the nutty fruit, the avocado. Legumes (beans, lentils, and peas), and Salmon and other fatty fish like mackerel and trout are great options that are also great sources of protein. And keep the whole grains like oatmeal in the cupboard; it’s even a  good option during hot summer months. As a treat, have a few pieces of dark chocolate (70% or more cacao). All of these foods help to increase your HDL, the healthy cholesterol.

What is Cholesterol? (And why should I care?)

Your body naturally produce cholesterol and it plays an important role in how your body functions. Your liver makes cholesterol and your body then uses it for three different processes. First, it is used to help build tissue in your muscles. Second, it helps in the production of sex hormones. Finally, cholesterol also assists your liver in producing bile. While your body does produce cholesterol, you can also get it through animal-based foods like meat and dairy products. However, the problem is that too much cholesterol can lead to health problems.

What is Good and Bad Cholesterol?

There are two main types of cholesterol: HDL and LDL.

HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, is considered good cholesterol. This cholesterol works to keep your cardiovascular system healthy by reducing your LDL cholesterol levels. It helps break down the bad cholesterol by delivering it back to the liver. Your liver then breaks down the LDL cholesterol and it is eliminated from your body. Having high levels of HDL cholesterol has been shown to reduce your risk both strokes and heart attacks.  

LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, is considered bad cholesterol. This is because too much of it can harden your arteries through a buildup of plaque. When there is too much plaque, it can narrow your blood vessels, which means your body cannot get enough oxygen. Too much plague can also cause blood clots, which can cause strokes and heart attacks.

There is another type of cholesterol that is called Remnant Cholesterol. This cholesterol is not something that is normally tested for, however you can find out your remnant cholesterol levels by subtracting your HDL and LDL levels from your total cholesterol number. Remnant cholesterol is made of up both very low-density lipoproteins and intermediate-density lipoproteins. If your remnant cholesterol is high, then you have much higher chance of developing heart disease. Remnant cholesterol is also associated with higher levels of inflammation. 

“Remnant cholesterol is one of the best indicators of mortality, and is very Atherogenic which means it create “plaquing” or problems with the arteries. It is the plasma cholesterol or the cholesterol in the blood that is not HDL or LDL. Too much sugar or insulin could create a lot more extra cholesterol,” says Dr. Berg.

How to Find the Remnant Cholesterol:

Take the total cholesterol and minus your HDL and LDL

  • Less than 17: Optimal
  • 18 – 23: Okay
  • 24 – 29: Concerning
  • Greater than 30: Very Concerning

Image

How Does Diet Affect Cholesterol Levels?

Since your body already produces enough cholesterol, you don’t need to consume large quantities of it. In fact, lowering the amount of foods you eat that are high in cholesterol can help keep your LDL and remnant cholesterol levels low. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and never eat foods that have trans-fat. Instead, look for healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids. Increasing your soluble fiber intake will also help your body absorb cholesterol so that your HDL levels will rise.

In addition to eating a better diet, you can also improve your cholesterol by living a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, moderate alcohol consumption, and no smoking. Many times, these habits will lead to weight loss, another factor that can improve your cholesterol.

Understanding what cholesterol is and how it affects you is the first step in improving your cholesterol levels. Eating a healthy diet full of plant-based foods and avoiding foods that are high in saturated fat will help you lower dangerous cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart disease.

If you’re very worried about your cholesterol, then visit your doctor to have our cholesterol levels checked. Once you know what your levels are, you’ll know what steps to take to ensure that you have healthy cholesterol levels.


So what exactly is on your plate?

To help keep your cholesterol in check, load up on nuts, especially almonds and walnuts, and the nutty fruit, the avocado. Legumes (beans, lentils, and peas), and Salmon and other fatty fish like mackerel and trout are great options that are also great sources of protein. And keep the whole grains like oatmeal in the cupboard; it’s even a  good option during hot summer months. As a treat, have a few pieces of dark chocolate (70% or more cacao). All of these foods help to increase your HDL, the healthy cholesterol.