LDL Cholesterol: The Hidden Hand Behind Heart Disease
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.
LDL stands for low density lipoprotein, with the ‘lipo’ prefix indicating ‘fatty’. Similarly HDL stands for high density lipoprotein. The liver produces HDL cholesterol. This HDL cholesterol is used to repair damaged tissue and even to replace the dead tissue. The byproduct of this repairative work is LDL cholesterol. The LDL cholesterol is flushed out of the system by our circulatory and excretory systems. The body has regulatory mechanisms to ensure the proper balance of HDL and LDL cholesterols. However, at times, the level of LDL cholesterol exceeds the normal range and we end up with high LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. This is bad for our health.
Excessive LDL cholesterol sticks to the inner walls of the blood vessel and forms a plaque which reduces the blood flow. This condition is called arteriosclerosis, which is the harbinger of critical heart diseases.
Arteriosclerosis leads to high blood pressure which strains the heart and damages the walls of the blood vessels, a condition known as atherosclerosis. Clumps of LDL cholesterol can move down the blood vessels and block the minute capillary networks supplying blood to the brain and heart. If the capillary networks in these critical organs are blocked, the blood supply to these vital organs is cut off, stopped, and the organs experience a massive failure. Capillary blockage in the brain causes strokes, and capillary blockage in the heart cause heart attack. I don’t need to tell you the implications of these two conditions.
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.
Check the medium your food is cooked in. Stop using polyunsaturated vegetable oils because they change to trans-fats on heating, and trans-fats are harmful for health. Use olive oil instead, because it is a good cooking medium. Just this much is good enough to bring about a drastic reduction of LDL cholesterol.
Cigarette smoking is bad for health. It harms the body in more than just one way. Smoking increases the level of LDL cholesterol. So quit now and your LDL cholesterol will be gone tomorrow! The steps outlined in this article are very easy to implement. You will avoid the risk of heart disease if you follow them.
A stressful lifestyle adds fuel to fire if you have an excessive LDL cholesterol level. Tension adds to the high LDL cholesterol situation, whereas a tension free lifestyle actually goes a long way to decreasing the LDL cholesterol level.
To sum up, LDL cholesterol can be controlled by eating foods which are free of saturated fats, exercising, quitting smoking and ridding yourself of stress. The worst thing you can do is to panic about high LDL cholesterol levels. This article is meant to educate you about the cause and prevention of heart disease, not scare you. Use what you have learnt in this article to control the LDL cholesterol situation. Once that is under control, you can say that the risk of heart disease is under control.