Is Cholesterol a Good or Bad Thing?

Mainstream media has villainized cholesterol, but why?  Did you know that cholesterol is vital for:

  • Brain function – your body uses cholesterol to power electrical signals.  In fact, your brain has the highest concentration of cholesterol in your body.
  • Hormone production – cholesterol is the precursor for the synthesis of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen.
  • Digestive salts – The liver uses cholesterol to manufacture bile salts for proper digestion of food.
  • The integrity and health of cell membranes – cholesterol is needed to maintain the integrity of cell membranes in your body.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all cells of the body. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods.

In fact, cholesterol is so vital to a healthy body that your liver actually makes all that it needs to survive… you literally don’t even need to eat it!

So why are we all afraid of it in modern society?  The answer lies in understanding how heart disease occurs with cholesterol and the hardened of the arteries (atherosclerosis).   By a simple definition, atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries where plaque builds up along the arterial walls that affects both the elasticity of the artery and the space available for blood flow that can lead to heart attack or stroke.  Plague is made up of calcium and cholesterol.  And when scientists first discovered this….it led to the belief that cholesterol was bad.  Although, as more studies have occurred throughout the many decades on cholesterol, it was also found that high levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol were bad for the heart and high levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) were good for the heart.  Well, not entirely…. In actuality, LDL isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it is in balance with HDL. It’s sent out from the liver to perform the many functions that cholesterol performs, as mentioned above. HDL is in many ways LDL’s balance. HDL’s are on their way back to the liver, and are involved in healing damage to vessel walls (plaque removal) and latching on to spent or oxidized LDL particles in order to return them to the liver for reprocessing.  This is why HDL is considered the good cholesterol.  HDL levels are what doctors are looking for when they test total cholesterol.  Statins come in when doctors want to lower LDL levels in the blood.

For a healthy cholesterol score, there are ways in your diet that not only create that healthy balance of LDL and HDL, but can help you lose weight.  Diets high in healthy fats, such as, avocado, fish, nuts and olive oil help to regulate your good cholesterol.  Furthermore, diets such as the ketogenic diet which is high in healthy fats and protein with a low carb intake have proven to raise your HDL levels and lose weight.  You can also find lots of recipes online that are healthy fat recipes that taste fantastic and good for you.

Here’s to your health!

If you have any questions about my services and how I can help you lose weight or improve your health, please contact me to further assist you.

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