I’ve seen many segments on cholesterol in various news programs and a lot of commercials/ads about products to improve my numbers. The problem with these tidbits of information is that they don’t always explain what cholesterol is and why we need to pay attention to them.
What is Cholesterol? This is a type of lipid, or fat, found in your liver, digestive tract and blood. Two major factors are high density lipoprotein and low density lipoprotein. The former is sometimes called “good” and the latter “bad.”
Where does it Come from? Most of the cholesterol in the body is made by that body. The liver manufactures it, and it is needed for many things. Some of what’s in the body can come from foods. Both HDL and LDL can be found in foods like salmon, eggs and chicken. This is the only aspect of the numbers that can be addressed without medication or herbal help.
What does it do? We can’t live without at least some cholesterol. It’s important to digestion, it moves things through the blood stream and helps in cell formation. It’s extremely important for babies, as it helps them grow and develop properly.
LDL: This type gets a bad rap. While too much of it is a bad thing, it’s still needed. It is used to carry the lipid to the parts of the body that need it. As an example, if the liver needs to produce more bile, it comes from this form.
HDL: While LDL shoots out cholesterol, HDL cleans up behind it. LDL moves very slowly and has a tendency to drop particles in the blood stream as it moves through the body. HDL picks it up so it can’t cause plaque buildup in our arteries.
So, Why Are my Numbers Important: A good balance between LDL and HDL makes for a much healthier body. In many of us, LDL levels are higher than desired and HDL are lower. This can lead to heart disease, strokes and other deadly problems.
There are three people you should consult if you are concerned about your cholesterol numbers. Naturally, your doctor is first. Some people inherit a tendency to produce far more LDL than the body can use. Medications can help get the numbers back in balance.
The second person to consult is a nutritionist. Navigating the grocery aisles in search of low LDL food products can be a daunting task. The nutritionist can help you make appropriate food choices, including what types of protein are best for you.
An herbal practitioner is a third option. There are herbs that may be useful in the fight to balance your numbers. Garlic, fish oil and flax seed oil are three options that may go along with medications to help in this effort.
As you can see, your numbers are very important to your health. Cholesterol isn’t necessarily all bad for us, but balance is the key.