Good Cholesterol versus Bad Cholesterol
The term “cholesterol” is used a lot in food advertisements. Then there is “good” and “bad” cholesterol! Doctors also mention it quite often, stressing a lot on maintaining the right cholesterol levels. So what exactly do these levels and types of cholesterol mean?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance, which is found in all the cells of our body. The body produces its own cholesterol, though we may believe, thanks to advertising, that it is only acquired through external foods. However, cholesterol is also found in some of the foods that we consume.
The body produces enough cholesterol needed to make hormones, vitamin D and compounds that help in digestion. The additional cholesterol that we ingest into our body through oily or fatty foods can be harmful.
So what is good and bad cholesterol?
Cholesterol travels through the body inside packages known as “lipoproteins”. These contain lipids (fats) on the inside and proteins on the outside, hence the name lipoprotein.
Two kinds of lipoproteins are present in our body. These are LDL or Low Density Lipoprotein and HDL or High Density Lipoprotein. We require healthy levels of both LDL and HDL for our bodies to function optimally.
LDL cholesterol is called the “bad” cholesterol, not because it is inherently bad or harmful, but because when there is an excess of LDL packages, the arteries get clogged with cholesterol.
HDL cholesterol is called the “good” cholesterol because it carries excess cholesterol from other parts of the body to your liver and the liver helps in removing it from the body. Since HDL aids in the cleaning of your system, it is known as good cholesterol.
The higher the LDL is in your blood, the greater the chance of your getting heart disease. Similarly, the higher the HDL in your blood, the lower your chances of getting heart disease.
Since the body requires both “good” and “bad” cholesterol to maintain optimum bodily functions, we cannot really decide which one to keep and which one to eliminate. However, a few tips can be followed to ensure we are cooperating with the body in maintaining the balance of LDL and HDL levels.
- Follow a healthy lifestyle.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid oily or fatty foods.
- Eat foods like walnuts, bitter gourd, fish, brown rice and whole grains that help reduce cholesterol.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption.
For more information on cholesterol, consult a CARE physician today. Take care!