Bad Cholesterol And Good Cholesterol: What’s The Difference?
In our environment, we often hear the concept of bad cholesterol and good cholesterol. I’ll explain what the difference is and why this nomenclature is important. Let’s start from the beginning and explain.
What Is Cholesterol?
It is a fat that circulates in the blood of all animals that have a liver. It is essential for life because it has a function in the body: it is necessary for the production of hormones, bile acids, vitamin D.
Blood is an aqueous medium, and cholesterol is fat, so it cannot circulate freely in the body. Imagine oil in a cup. Therefore, this molecule needs a carrier to pass through the blood. These carriers are the lipoproteins.
LDL is a lipoprotein that circulates freely in the bloodstream and has no fixed direction. It is used when cholesterol is needed by a cell somewhere in the body. Health problems begin when LDL levels are much higher than what the cells need. As a result, too much-unused LDL in the blood can begin to build up and accumulate, causing inflammation and the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries. This is why LDL is called bad cholesterol.
HDL is a lipoprotein that is transported to the liver, where it is metabolized, i.e. consumed and destroyed. This means that it cleanses the blood of excess blood. This is why HDL is called “good”.
How Do You Know Your Cholesterol Level?
You can find out with a blood test. Total cholesterol level is a value that takes into account all the contents of the blood and does not distinguish between any type of cholesterol, with recommendations below 200 mg/dL, between 200-240 mg/dL as high, and above 240 mg/dL as very high.
High-density lipoprotein or “good” cholesterol is recommended above 45 mg/dL, but above 60 mg/dL is effective in preventing cardiovascular disease. Therefore, if we are high.
LDL or bad, less than 130 mg/dL is recommended. Nevertheless, may have changed the parameters, the doctor tells us that good cholesterol compensates bad and we do not worry. This expression refers to the atherogenic index, which relates the total cholesterol to the good cholesterol and calculates if we are exposed to health problems because of the level of cholesterol. The index is calculated by dividing the total level by the HDL. The result must be less than 4.5 to be considered favorable.
If the total level is 221 mg/dl and the HDL is 108 mg/dl. The total cholesterol is high, but the atherogenic index is calculated and found to be correct.
- Total 221/HDL 108 = 2.05.
- This means that even if your total cholesterol is over 200, you have nothing to worry about because your atherogenic index is low.
Why Is My Bad Cholesterol High?
It can be high for genetic reasons and is called familial hypercholesterolemia. This means that the body produces too much of it. In this case, it appears high at a young age and is not related to lifestyle. It can also be high due to poor lifestyle habits. This includes lack of exercise, alcohol consumption and poor diet.
What Is The Best Diet To Lower Cholesterol?
To illustrate the effect of diet on blood cholesterol, I have prepared a true-false test to point out good and bad foods if you have high cholesterol.
- You should stop eating eggs as part of your diet to lower it. False. It is a fact that egg yolks contain cholesterol. That’s why limiting egg intake has been recommended for years. However, it has been proven that eating eggs in moderation (about 4 times a week) has no negative effect on cholesterol levels. The yolks of eggs contain lecithin and biotin, which help to lower cholesterol levels.
- French fries contain cholesterol. False. No plant-based food contains cholesterol. Therefore, whether boiled or fried, potatoes do not contribute to the intake of cholesterol in the body. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get high and eat fries without adverse effects. If you have dyslipidemia (the presence of triglycerides and changes in blood cholesterol), eating fried foods is not recommended.
- Eating salmon helps lower the fact that: salmon is a fatty fish and provides omega-3, a heart-healthy fat that helps normalize blood levels.
- Eating nuts can raise HDL. Fact: Walnuts contain polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially linolenic acid and plant omega-3, which increase good cholesterol and lower LDL, bad cholesterol and total cholesterol.
- Eating peanuts will increase cholesterol. False. Peanuts do not contain cholesterol. They can be fried or pickled and can also cause weight gain if we eat too many of them, which can affect cholesterol levels.
- Olive oil is good for the heart Fact: Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats and antioxidants such as vitamin E, which increase HDL and prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaques on the walls of the arteries.
- There is no cholesterol in acorn ham. False. All types of ham contain cholesterol. Acorn-flavored ham, for example, has a lipid profile that has been shown to be heart-healthy and helps improve blood levels. Therefore, if you do not have high blood pressure, it is safe to eat.
- You need to eat whole grains to lower your cholesterol. Fact: Whole grains provide fiber. Fiber reduces the absorption of food and is present in the bile of the intestines.
- Light cheese is a suitable product if we have high cholesterol. This is a mistake. Light cheese is better than plain cheese because it has at least 30% less fat.
- Eating dark chocolate is better than eating milk chocolate if we have high cholesterol. Fact: Cocoa can help lower cholesterol levels in people at high risk for heart disease. We can’t recommend that people eat chocolate to raise their levels, but if you do, the higher the cocoa content, the better.
Fat consumption is important for good blood levels. A cholesterol-lowering diet should be rich in monounsaturated fats, such as those found in olive oil and avocados. In addition, there are polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 from fatty fish and its plant-based version. In addition to fats, there are other noteworthy substances such as fiber and antioxidants, such as phytosterols from citrus fruits and vegetables.
It is important to remember that in the case of overweight or obesity, losing weight is of paramount importance. By losing weight, cholesterol levels and the risk of cardiovascular disease will be reduced.