The Good and Bad of Cholesterol
The Good and Bad of Cholesterol
Dr. Claire Arcidiacono, ND
Cholesterol is a topic that gets plenty of attention. Atherosclerosis is another topic that gets a lot of attention. But what are these things? What is the relationship between them? And perhaps most importantly what is their importance in our life?
Now I’m not going to get too in depth with the details of what cholesterol is and isn’t since there is a plethora of information on this topic at invitehealth.com. But I do want to provide some background information. Now you are probably thinking why does this concern me at all? I am young, cholesterol is a concern for the elderly! Unfortunately, this is becoming less true over time and is becoming something that younger and younger people must contend with. So, let’s start with some background information! Basically, cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in our blood. Now cholesterol doesn’t just wonder around in our blood willy-nilly. It rides on proteins called LDL or HDL. LDL or the “bad guy” is what brings cholesterol around the body. LDL is considered the bad guy because it deposits cholesterol into our blood vessels and this eventually builds up leading to plaque. But LDL isn’t just dropping cholesterol into our blood vessels for no reason! LDL travels the body looking for blood vessel walls that are damaged and it places the cholesterol over this damage like a band aid. Unfortunately it tends to keep piling cholesterol onto this spot and the cholesterol builds up. Over time this becomes the cholesterol plaque that causes us so many problems.
What are some of the things that can damage our blood vessels leading to cholesterol becoming a plaque in the first place? Well there are a number of things that can do this! These risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, lack of activity, poor diet and too much alcohol. Having high cholesterol and abdominal obesity are also risk factors. Unfortunately the only way to know your cholesterol is high is to get blood work. There aren’t signs that would indicate that your cholesterol is too high.
What does HDL do? HDL picks up the excess cholesterol and takes it back to the liver. In simple terms it puts it back into storage. Lastly on your blood work is something called triglycerides. This is another type of fat that increase the risk of heart disease. Now before you start to think that all cholesterol is bad, I want to point out that cholesterol is important for building our cells, making certain vitamins, and even provides the building blocks for hormones and neurotransmitters! Even our brain depends on cholesterol.
What is atherosclerosis? In this disease there are lesions in the walls of our arteries. Now these lesions can lead to our blood vessels becoming narrow due to the buildup of plaque aka cholesterol that has been deposited. Just as an aside plaque is more than just cholesterol, it also contains fat, calcium and cholesterol all combined. Now do you remember my blog on poor circulation? Well atherosclerosis is one of the things that can lead to poor circulation.
The risk factors for atherosclerosis and high cholesterol are very similar. Having high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and having a poor diet are all risk factors. But why is this important? As I said at the start of this blog cholesterol build up starts very young. It is a prime example of something that you should work on before it becomes a problem. Cholesterol is also a risk factor for almost every type of heart disorder including atherosclerosis, which in turn is a huge risk factor for heart diseases such as poor circulation, coronary artery disease, stroke, heart attack and even kidney disease! So what can you do if have a family history or even personal history of high cholesterol? Turns out there is a lot you can do!
- Life style – there are quite a few life style choices that can help with cholesterol. First stop smoking, reduce alcohol intake, increase activity and start including more healthy foods. Studies show that a Mediterranean style diet is very helpful for cholesterol and heart health!
- Aged garlic has been found in studies to help lower our cholesterol levels as well our blood pressure! Please see Invite’s Aged Garlic
- Policosanol has been found to lower LDL cholesterol by up to 29%! It has even been found to help raise our HDL. I have attached the study at the end of this blog. Feel free to take a look and call us with any questions! For Policosanol take a look at Invite health’s Policosanol!
- Resveratrol has been found by the Cleveland clinic to help lower LDL and raise HDL! Resveratrol is a powerhouse when it comes to keeping us healthy! Please see Invite’s Resveratrol and Resveratrol Max!
- Omega 3s are also a powerful nutrient in our health journey! The Mayo clinic has found them to help lower triglycerides and raise our HDL! Please see Invite’s Fish Oil and Krill Oil Advanced!
- For our product spotlight I will be reviewing a personal favorite – Sterols Plus!
Sources used in this blog:
- “Cholesterol”. MedlinePlus, National Library of Medicine, US National Institutes of Health. 10 December 2020. Retrieved 23 August 2023.
- The Mediterranean Diet and Cardiovascular Health | Circulation Research (ahajournals.org)
- Effects of an Optimized Aged Garlic Extract on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Moderate Hypercholesterolemic Subjects: A Randomized, Crossover, Double-Blind, Sustained and Controlled Study – PMC (nih.gov)
- Policosanol: clinical pharmacology and therapeutic significance of a new lipid-lowering agent – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Health Benefits of Resveratrol — And Should You Take It? (clevelandclinic.org)
- Fish oil – Mayo Clinic