Cholesterol is a substance that is found in our blood. It is usually associated with other substances, notably the lipoproteins named LDL and HDL. The association with HDL is good for our health whereas the association with LDL is bad. Let us find out how these associations actually affect our health and how we can guard against their adverse effect on our health.
HDL cholesterol is beneficial to the body and must be transported to all parts of the body by the bloodstream, whereas LDL cholesterol must be eliminated from the body via the very same bloodstream. The body has a mechanism to regulate the levels of LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol in the blood. Bad eating and lifestyle habits cause the cholesterol levels to exceed the normal healthy bounds thus overloading the regulatory mechanism. If this condition continues for a long time our health is jeopardized.
LDL means 'fatty proteins of low density'. This in turn means that LDL cholesterol tends to be loose and thick. LDL cholesterol circulates with the blood and sticks to the inner walls of the blood vessels, forming plaque and gradually reducing the vascular passage. This condition is called arteriosclerosis which results in atherosclerosis, meaning degeneration of the blood vessels.
Blood backs up from this point leading to high blood pressure which severely stresses the heart. Worse, small bits of the LDL cholesterol blockage can get dislodged and flow down with the blood. If these bits of LDL cholesterol enter a capillary, which is a very fine blood vessel, the capillary gets blocked starving the areas served by the capillary network of vital blood. If this happens in the brain, then areas of the brain just shut down leading to a form of paralysis called a 'stroke'. If the blood flow to the heart itself is cut off, a heart attack occurs possibly leading to a fatality. These are just two situations which can occur when LDL cholesterol exceeds the normal limit. There are a great number of similar situations, collectively called cardiovascular disease, which are directly linked to the excessive LDL cholesterol level.
There is just one thing we can do to guard against heart disease caused by excessive LDL cholesterol: assist the body in regulating the blood cholesterol level. The most effective way is by controlling what we eat. Medical researchers tell us that the most common reason for excessive LDL cholesterol is our over-indulgence in saturated fats, both directly and indirectly. We can have fatty foods which are good for health, like the omega-3 group of fats. The omega-3 fats actually work to reduce the LDL cholesterol in the blood, so we should have a lot of tuna and salmon because they are rich sources of omega-3 fats. Studies show that drinking a lot of water helps to increase the blood circulation which goes a long way in reducing LDL cholesterol.
Stop using heavy cooking oil to cook food in. Switch to virgin olive oil which is highly recommended as a healthy cooking medium. Changing your cooking oil is a very effective way to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Quit smoking. We all know that smoking is bad for the lungs and is also a carcinogenic activity. What most of us don't know is that smoking aggravates the high LDL cholesterol condition. The LDL cholesterol will drop almost immediately from the time you stop smoking, and it will drop further if you do as mentioned in this article.
Medical research shows that stress leads to LDL cholesterol buildup. Lowering your stress level will lower your blood LDL cholesterol too. The moral of the lesson is that you should relax more often, give up those activities that add to your stress, and pick up those activities that reduce your stress.
Say no to saturated fats, both as food and as a cooking medium. Say no to cigarette smoking. Say no to stress. Say no to inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle. Say yes to regular exercise. If you do all this, you'll be saying: "Good riddance, LDL cholesterol! Hello, health!