Do you want to or need to improve your cholesterol profile? Sure, there are some outliers who believe that high cholesterol levels are good for your health and longevity. There are proponents of eating only meat and minimizing fruits, veggies, and other generally accepted “healthy” foods. However, most cardiologists recommend getting your cholesterol levels under control for cardiovascular health and longevity. I’ll go ahead and play it safe, and accept the advice of the overwhelming majority of heart MD’s on this one, and actively work to keep my Cholesterol Levels in check.
Desirable Cholesterol Levels
Less than 170 mg/dL
Low LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
Less than 110 mg/dL
High HDL (“good”) cholesterol
35 mg/dL or higher
Less than 150 mg/dL
WHAT IS CHOLESTEROL AND WHY DO WE MEASURE IT?
Cholesterol is part of the STEROLS family, a large group of waxy lipids (fats) that are found in plants, animals, fungi, and some bacteria. Cholesterol is an essential molecule, meaning that…
-->We need it to make our cell membranes and other important structures, such as hormones.
As with many other systems in our body, cholesterol production is controlled by a feedback mechanism.
Of Special Note:
So, based on #4 above, cholesterol must attach itself to lipoprotein particles to move through the bloodstream.
These lipoproteins are mostly what cholesterol tests are measuring.
The types of lipoproteins vary by size and density. The differences between them affect how they work and what kind of benefits/risks they present.
Types of lipoproteins measured in a cholesterol test:
- Contain more triglycerides than cholesterol
- Carry fat from small intestine to liver
- Packaged in liver to be sent elsewhere
- What you hear referred to as BAD cholesterol
- Carry Fat to Our Cells
- Can Oxidize in Blood Vessels
- Forming “plaques” that can lead to heart disease
- We need them, but don’t want TOO much CHOLESTEROL in them
- Smallest particles
- Contain most cholesterol relative to triglyceride
- Carry what people refer to as GOOD cholesterol
- Want higher levels of cholesterol in these particles
- Thought of as “cholesterol clean up” crew
- Shuttle cholesterol back to liver for recycling
*HERE’S WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW!*
-->WE CAN affect our cholesterol levels with DIET!!! How you might ask?!
-Eating more omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids lowers LDL and raises HDL
-Eating more saturated fats seems to raise LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
-Diets high in processed foods tend to worsen our lipoprotein profile
-Diets with minimally processed WHOLE FOODS tends to improve our lipoprotein profile
This is NOT an exhaustive list by any means, but steer more towards these foods to improve your lipoprotein profile, which will result in a better Cholesterol Test…
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Nuts and Seeds
- Fish and Lean Protein Sources
- Whole Grains
- Beans and Legumes
Next week, we will discuss HOW eating whole foods helps to improve the lipoprotein profile.
The more you know!
Here’s to being…