Cholesterol has gotten the bad end of the stick for years. Did you know that we actually need cholesterol to stay healthy?
By Dr Nyarai Paweni Sage ReStorative Health
So, what is cholesterol? it’s a waxy fat-‐like substance that is primarily made in the liver. The liver makes 80% of our cholesterol. The remaining 20% comes from our diet from meats, cheeses, milks, nuts etc.
And why is it important? Cholesterol is essential for cell membranes, and is the building block for production of hormones (thyroid, male/female hormones) and vitamin D.
The Story of Fats:
Trans Fats vs Natural Fats (Saturated/Un-‐hydrogenated)
Natural-‐Occurring Fats: – produced in the gut of some animals and foods made from these (meats, eggs, nuts, butter, palm oil, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados.
Trans/Artificial Fats: -‐ created through an industrial process that adds hydrogen that bonds to liquid vegetal oils to make them more solid and extend shelf life. This makes them more reactive to oxygen and cause damages to your cells and even your DNA. Some effects of Trans Fats: They raise LDL cholesterol and lowers HDL cholesterol. So, eating trans-‐fats increases risk of developing heart disease and is associated with higher risk for the development of Type 2 Diabetes.
Vegetable Oils – like seed oils, soya bean oil. Sunflower oil, corn oil and canola oil, cotton seed oil have very high amounts of omega-‐6 polyunsaturated fatty acids which are harmful in excess.
Goal: Previously, it was optimum to have an Omega 6 and Omega 3 ratio that was 4:1 to 1:2 however, it should be noted that now a day there is a 16 Omega 6 to 1 Omega 3 ratio and such a combination is known to mess up with your fatty acid composition of your cells.
Testing for Cholesterol:
General guidelines for blood test results include:
HDL:<100mg/dL at least 60mg/DL
Fasting Blood Sugar:<40mg/DL (female) <50mg/DL (Male)
What is LDL?
LDL is a “carrier protein”. Its job is to “carry” cholesterol particles around the body.LDL isn’t always “bad” because your body needs cholesterol! LDL cholesterol itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, yet when LDL cholesterol is in aninflamed environment, your risk of heart and vascular disease increases.
LDL cholesterol is typically referred to as “bad cholesterol”, but not all LDL cholesterol iscreated equal! Current research has led to advanced laboratorytesting that measures the size and number of your LDL particles -‐ which is a better predictor of heart and vascular disease risk. If you have small, dense “sticky” LDL particles, these are much more concerning than large, buoyant “beach ball”-‐like particles, which carry less risk. Testing now also measures another type of lipid protein called lipoprotein(a). Lipoprotein
- is a highly atherogenic . Meaning it tends to promote the formation of fatty deposits in the arteries So Lipoprotein (a) is the “troublemaker” that has a strong genetic component and does not readily decrease with diet change or statin drugs, this is what we should be concerned with.
Why do we even care about high cholesterol?
Because of risk for heart and vascular disease! Yet many physicians base risk and treatment decisions on results that show increased cholesterol such as high triglycerides, or low HDL or LDL. The current understanding is that LDL cholesterol itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing,but when LDL cholesterol is in an inflamed environment, your risk of heart and vascular disease increases and that’s where all the fuss and concern needs to be focused.
- Inflammation (think of as “fire” in your arteries) measured with hsCRP and fibrinogen
- Oxidation (think of as “rusting” in your arteries) measured by oxidized LDL
- Glycation ( think of as “sugar coating” LDL and making it stickier) measured with fasting glucose, insulin, and HbA1c
Advanced testing can also look for signs of plaque formation may be essential.
Dr .Nyarai Paweni,ND is a Naturopathic Physician: www.sagehwcom and writes in her own capacity as an expert: Follow her on @DrNyarai, Facebook.com/sagerhealth: WATCH OUT FOR HER PART TO DISPELLING MYTHS ABOUT CHOLESTEROL NEXT WEEK