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Everything you need to know about cholesterol: why is not it as bad as we think

Cholesterol is bad, not all cholesterol is the same and many more things have surely heard of this compound that we all have in blood, so, we show you everything you need to know about cholesterol if you want to protect your health first and foremost.

What is cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fat that we all have in our blood and despite its widespread negative fame, it is a lipid we need for the body to function properly, because it participates in processes of great importance to the human body.

Among them, it is part of the membrane of each cell of the body allowing and slowing down the passage of different substances, as well as being a precursor of hormones, vitamin D and bile salts that contribute to the digestion of fats.

Given the importance of cholesterol , our body is able to produce high proportions of it in the liver, from where it then leaves the bloodstream and reaches every cell in the body.

By blood, cholesterol is mobilized together with different types of proteins that allow us to distinguish “good” or “bad” cholesterol .

The different types of cholesterol

For practical purposes we always distinguish two types of cholesterol , although cholesterol is only one and as we said, what makes the difference is whether they bind to one or other proteins when circulating in blood.

The so-called “good” cholesterol is HDL or high density lipoprotein, which is the protein that circulates from the organs and tissues to the liver and therefore is considered beneficial for health, while the cholesterol considered “bad” is LDL or low density lipoprotein which, inversely, is directed from the liver to the different organs.

HDL cholesterol once in the liver is destroyed, while LDL leaves the liver and goes to the blood, so high levels of it are dangerous because they are not eliminated but can accumulate causing a plaque among other things and subsequently Atherosclerosis

Given the circulation and the very different fate of HDL and LDL cholesterol , the former is considered good and protective against cardiovascular diseases and the latter, with the opposite effect.

What is considered high and low cholesterol

Before a blood test, it is considered that it is best to have a total cholesterol below 200 mg / dl , above this value we have high cholesterol or hypercholesterolemia.

However, beyond the total cholesterol, always distinguish between HDL and LDL cholesterol as explained above and these are the ones that indicate the truth of the matter.

It is considered a cut-off level of 40-50 mg / dl for HDL , with very low levels below these values ​​and appropriate the higher we have this type of cholesterolin blood, while above 100 mg / dl of cholesterol LDL we have very high levelsof this type of “bad” cholesterol for the body.

Although these parameters are valid today, science has shown for a long time, that it is not so bad to have high cholesterol , not even LDL or total cholesterol, because what we always think today the science denies by pointing out that Little cholesterol levels are linked to increased cardiac risk .

Perhaps beyond cholesterol, there are other lipids such as triglycerides or parameters such as insulin that are responsible for the origin of diseases .

Can we improve it with diet? With exercise?

As limits are still established for cholesterol and high blood levels are considered cardiovascular risk factors, it is common to find diet and lifestyle recommendations in general , to reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL .

However, the cholesterol that we eat little is associated with diseases and a high intake of this lipid modifies its blood levels very little, according to a study published in the Nutrition Bulletin .

Also, reducing the cholesterol in the diet achieves very little effect on blood levels , another reason why dietary cholesterol intake does not deserve greater importance and why the latest North American Dietary Guidelines are taken as reference at international level , do not establish limits for the consumption of this lipid.

However, although the consumption of cholesterol has little influence on blood cholesterol levels, there are other factors that can modify their levels such as the intake of trans fats, which to a greater extent than saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol and reduce HDL. , or even the high consumption of sugars and refined flours can increase LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in blood, but not directly but by stimulating its synthesis in the liver, since 75% of the cholesterol circulating in blood derives from the production endogenous and not of what we eat.

In addition to diet, regular exercise can modify cholesterol levels, increasing HDL cholesterol, as concluded by research published in JAMA Internal Medicine that is also associated with a reduction in triglycerides and abdominal fat.

If we want to take care of our health, cholesterol levels do not matter as much as our habits . If we take a balanced diet reduced in sugars, trans fats and refined flours, but full of good fats for health, fiber, vitamins and minerals; we exercise and do not smoke or drink alcohol, it is very likely that the diseases will stay away even if we have more than 200 mg / dl of total cholesterol in the blood.

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