The following article is a small excerpt from one of my books. I hope you’ll want to learn more and let me help you to get into the best shape of your life.
Cholesterol belongs to a family of related compounds called sterols, which basically means that the molecules are all made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms.
Cholesterol like fat is necessary for the body to function properly however, it becomes harmful only when the levels are elevated in the bloodstream. The two types of cholesterol are; Dietary cholesterol that is found in products of animal origin (meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, dairy products, eggs and organ meat) and blood (serum) cholesterol which 80% is produced in your body by your liver and the other 20% is influenced by your diet through excess calories, excess fat and in some cases excess dietary cholesterol. When selecting your daily food supply, it should contain less than 300 mg of cholesterol.
Cholesterol is made in your liver at a rate of about 50 septillion molecules every second. You have heard the warnings about cholesterol, so you may ask yourself why your liver would make something that is potentially very harmful to you. Well the answer is simple, you can’t live without it. In fact, chikesterol is a component in every cell of your body. Your cells are surrounded by a protective covering or cell membrane and cholesterol molecules are one of the molecules that make up this cell membrane.
Cholesterol is also important in the manufacturing of hormones. (Hormones are the chemical messengers that cells use to talk to each other) If you didn’t have cholesterol you wouldn’t have testosterone or estrogen. If you didn’t have cholesterol, you wouldn’t have Vitamin D, which is indispensable to your ability to absorb calcium from the food you eat.
Still confused about cholesterol and Fat? Are you still baffled about the terminology? Well there are basically two kinds of fats . . . Saturated and Unsaturated and two types of Cholesterol . . . Dietary and Blood.
Saturated fats in your diet are what influences your liver to produce the cholesterol in your blood. The main sources of saturated fats (which are normally solid at room temperature) are animal products (meat, poultry and dairy), Vegetable sources (coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel and cocoa butter) and a group known as Trans Fats. Trans Fats are formed through a manufacturing process called ‘hydrogenation’, which turns oils from a liquid state into a solid state, such as shortening and some margarine’s. Although these oils in these Trans Fats begin as unsaturated fat, there is evidence that once they enter your body they act as Saturated Fats.
When manufacturers Hydrogenate an oil (add hydrogen), two things Happen. First some of the unsaturated fats in the oil become saturated and will raise your cholesterol. Secondly, part of the oil becomes Trans Fatty acids. These Trans Fatty acids, are rarely produced naturally by your body and therefore your body is not properly prepared to deal with them and can cause a multitude of health problems. Foods containing even partially
Hydrogenated oils must be avoided.
While some saturated fats contain no cholesterol, simply eating them can result in increased levels of Blood Cholesterol. So you not only have to be careful of how much cholesterol a food contains, but also how much saturated fat it contains as well.
Unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) are generally better than saturated fats and include types of fats which are found in liquid oils such as Safflower, sesame, sunflower and corn as well as many nuts and seeds. Although Unsaturated fats are generally better than Saturated fats, this does not suggest you can consume large portions.
Dietary cholesterol is basically the cholesterol you get from the food you eat, and is absorbed directly by your body. The controversy arises around how much dietary cholesterol actually plays a part in raising your Blood Cholesterol levels.
Blood cholesterol occurs naturally in your body and is produced by your liver. Blood Cholesterol levels are therefore a result of both the foods you eat and the amount your liver manufacturers.
You know that Cholesterol is essential to have in your bloodstream, because it plays a key role in forming the tissue around cells and helps to manufacture some of the hormones you need for good health. Too much cholesterol in your blood stream on the other hand may lead to a narrowing of your arteries, which may slow or block the flow of Blood to your heart and brain. This could lead to a heart attack or stroke.
So how much is too much? Well hopefully you’ve had your cholesterol levels checked recently by your Family Doctor and can look at your numbers. High Cholesterol means a total Cholesterol level of greater than 6.2 mmol/L. But there is more to this number than meets the eye. Cholesterol is mixed with proteins in your blood so that it can circulate without forming fat droplets. These particles are Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) and High Density Lipoproteins (HDL).
LDLs are the bad guys of cholesterol and a number greater then 3.4 mmol/L is considered high (although some sources suggest a level of 4.14 is too high). LDLs also carry triglycerides and an amount greater than 2.3 is definitely abnormal. HDL is the good cholesterol, and acts like a catfish in a fish tank and cleans out the unwanted LDL deposits. Its level can be as high as the sky but a level lower than 0.9 mmol/L is not good.
The higher your HDL, means the less likely you are to have a Cardiac Problem, since HDL removes cholesterol from your body. A high Triglyceride count and a low HDL number, means you have an inability to clear, and this is not good. If you have a Low HDL, a High LDL and high triglyceride level, this suggests you are in a high risk group.
The easiest way to describe LDLs and HDLs is to compare them to trucks. The LDLs or bad cholesterol, is the truck that takes the cholesterol from your liver, where it is made, out to circulation, where cells can pick up what they need to form cell membranes or make hormones. The HDLs or good cholesterol are the trucks that take the cholesterol from your blood and return it to the liver where it is broken down. HDL and LDL molecules do this job perfectly, the problem arises when you have too much LDL or not enough HDL. If the cells can’t use all of the cholesterol that was brought to them, they begin to deposit it, in and around your arteries. Over many years, this cholesterol builds up in your arteries, contributing to a hardening of your arteries. Having a high count of HDL molecules, means you are better equipped to suck cholesterol out of the blood stream and transport it to the liver, where it can be eliminated. The bottom Line is you want a lot of HDL and not a lot of LDL.
Diet and Exercise are a cornerstone for lowering cholesterol levels and can do so by 10 to 15 percent, but this may not be enough. There are drugs on the market that can also help. This class of drug is known as Statins, and work on the liver enzyme responsible of clearing LDL. Statins where originally tested on people with heart disease, and was found to slow the progression of blockages, lower cholesterol and reduce death. When tested on healthy males, Statins were found to lower cholesterol, help blood vessels function better and therefore prevent first heart attacks.
Another popular tool in the fight against heart attacks is Aspirin. Over 80 Billion Aspirins are popped each year in North America, mostly to relieve pain, fever and inflammation but are also used as a blood thinner. Your heart, as you know is responsible for pumping blood to all parts of your body and in return, receives its own blood supply back, which is necessary for it to keep beating. Over time and through a process that is not fully understood (Atherosclerosis), your blood vessels become clogged with a substance called plaque. As more and more plaque blocks the blood vessels, less and less blood can get through. The result of this is a heart attack. Not because of the hearts inability to pump blood, but rather from a blockage in one or more of the blood vessels that supplies the heart with blood.
This blockage process, as I mentioned earlier is not fully understood, but what is known, is that Blood Platelets are involved. Blood Platelets are cells, which take part in the clotting process. These Platelets secrete a substance called Thromboxane, which is part of a family of substances known as Prostaglandins. ( Kind of like a hormone) Thromboxane, makes the platelets stick together and these form clumps. It is these clumps of sticky platelets that contribute to the formation of plaque, which eventually may lead to a heart attack.
Now Aspirin has the ability to stop the Blood Platelets from producing Thromboxane. When Thromboxane is stopped, the platelets are less likely to stick together and take part in the formation of plaque. So you can see, Aspirin doesn’t really thin your blood, it just makes your platelets less sticky.
Before you start popping Aspirin to prevent Heart Attacks, you should consult your family doctor to see if Aspirin is an appropriate course of action for you.
The research continues . . . So what does this all mean? Simply put, the key is healthy eating in moderation, incorporating all food groups into a balanced diet and you should get into the habit of choosing low fat foods . . . and most important of all… exercise.
I know you want to get in shape and look great. Whatever your fitness goal…to slim down…gain muscle…tone your arms or flatten your tummy…I’m here to help you accomplish your goals and to improve your fitness level. If you have enjoyed this article and the many other free features on my site, and would like some more comprehensive information such as fitness books and CD’s to aid you in achieving your health and fitness goals, please visit my ONLINE STORE where you will find innovative natural health and beauty products to help you become the BEST YOU CAN BE !