People are always getting confused about the two types of cholesterol found in the blood stream. In this article, we will differentiate between HDL (high density lipoprotein), or the “good guys” and LDL (low density lipoprotein), or the “bad guys”. The levels of HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in the blood are measured to evaluate the risk of having a heart attack. Overweight people are more likely to have high cholesterol from eating too many fatty foods, but thin people should also have their cholesterol checked regularly. Often people who don’t gain weight easily are less aware of how much saturated fat they eat. Nobody can “eat anything they want” and stay heart healthy. Cholesterol should be checked regularly regardless of your weight, exercise habits and diet.
When too much LDL is circulating in the blood stream, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Along with other substances it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog those arteries. This process of arterial hardening is known as atherosclerosis “the ugly”. Most people who have this “hardening of arteries” are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. If your levels of LDL are more than 130mg/dl and you have risk factors such as obesity, smoking, family history or decreased intake of dietary fiber, you are at risk for heart disease. LDL levels less than 100mg/dl and low risk factors such as thin builds, increased dietary fiber and increased exercise levels will decrease the risks of heart or arterial disease.
Approximately one-third of the blood stream carries the “good guys” or HDL cholesterol. HDL removes excess cholesterol from plaque in arteries, thus slowing the buildup. Medical experts think that HDL tends to carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it’s passed from the body. To increase HDL levels, one needs to quit smoking, lose weight and exercise regularly.
Unless your cholesterol is dangerously high, it’s best to try to reduce it by changing your diet. Drug therapy is usually prescribed for those who ï¿½ despite adequate dietary changes, regular physical activity and weight loss ï¿½ still have elevated levels of cholesterol. Making lifestyle changes along with taking medication is the best way to help prevent heart disease. By reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet and getting at least 30ï¿½60 minutes of aerobic exercise every other day is recommended, even if you’re taking cholesterol-lowering medication. Nutritional supplements will also aid in the decrease of cholesterol levels, however it is very important, as I always recommend to my Chicago chiropractic patients, consult your doctor when beginning any vitamin or nutritional regimen.