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What's The Truth About Bad Cholesterol?

May 31, 2008
Cholesterol gets so much bad press that it is hard to believe that your body actually needs it. There are two kinds of cholesterol in your body, good cholesterol which is commonly known as HDL cholesterol, and bad cholesterol or the more common name, LDL cholesterol. Cholesterol in your body is necessary to make hormones, vitamin D and bile salts and so is a necessary part of your normal body's functioning.

The bad cholesterol on the other hand can cause you lots of problems. The main worry with LDL cholesterol is that it will dump cholesterol onto artery walls that will create plaque. The plaque in turn will narrow and block the arteries. This may cause blood flow to be blocked, which is bad news for your heart.

What Raises Cholesterol?

There are a lot of confusing terms being thrown around when it comes to cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol is one of those terms. You might think that all dietary cholesterol is bad, but in fact dietary cholesterol does not raise blood cholesterol as much as you might think. The two bad guys here are trans fatty acids and saturated fats.

So when you think about cholesterol problems what you want to do is reduce your levels of bad cholesterol. The best way to do this is through dietary changes. Besides cutting down on foods with bad cholesterol such as meat, dairy, eggs and seafood, you can also eat other foods that will reduce LDL levels.

Trans fatty acids are found in a lot of packaged food. Microwave popcorn, hard stick margarine and some French fries from certain fast food chains are all culprits. By eliminating these foods or finding better substitutes you can cut down your consumption of trans fatty acids that will all contribute to the level of bad cholesterol in your system.

Increasing Good Fats

You can increase the amount of good cholesterol in your body while reducing the bad cholesterol. This is because the presence of good cholesterol in your body means that excess cholesterol will be taken back to the liver to be excreted out of your body. This means you want plenty of good cholesterol as high levels of good cholesterol means a reduced risk of heart disease.

Lifestyle changes such as eating foods rich in soluble fiber, polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats will help increase good cholesterol levels. Increasing the amount of physical activity you do every day will help to lower your cholesterol levels. Limiting alcohol intake -- no more than one glass a day for women and two for men -- is also a good idea. Taken together, making many small changes in your diet and exercise habits can add up to big changes in your cholesterol level. Why not get started today?
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