Your Body Needs Cholesterol
Despite what many people believe, cholesterol is not some evil dark force lurking around in your favorite foods, making them off limits or else it will clog up your arteries and put you at huge risk for heart disease. In fact, to maintain a healthy heart and arteries, your body needs cholesterol, and the more you have of a certain type of cholesterol the better.
First, here’s a little background on what makes up your cholesterol level: There are two types of cholesterol classified in medicine-commonly known as good cholesterol; High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) and bad cholesterol; Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Together, these two types of cholesterol along with one-fifth of your triglycerides makes up your cholesterol level. But wait, it’s not that simple-remember that there are both good and bad cholesterol types classified here. LDL cholesterol is considered bad, because it is the type thought to build up plaque in your arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke along with other cardiovascular complications.
The good cholesterol, HDL, is thought to help remove LDL from the bloodstream, thereby cleaning the arteries and preventing the build up of plaque and subsequent heart disease. And then there’s the part about triglycerides. These are another type of fat that stores excess calories from your diet, and high levels of triglycerides are associated with atherosclerosis. Elevated triglycerides can be caused by being overweight along with unhealthy lifestyle choices such as overeating sugary foods or too many carbohydrates (more than 60% of total calories), physical inactivity, cigarette smoking and a variety of diseases such as diabetes along with genetic conditions. Read more about healthy diet here.
So, if all of the above mentioned scientific ‘facts’ are true, then it still means that cholesterol isn’t bad for you; not all of it. Remember, we need HDL cholesterol to help remove LDL and clean our arteries. The highest concentrations of HDL are found in fatty fish, that’s why doctors tell their patients about supplementing with fish oil.
Some fatty fish are:
HDL also exists in plant-based fats found in:
- Sunflower seeds
- Chia seeds
Plus, an amount of all types of fats and cholesterol are needed for good health, particularly for women, to maintain proper hormone levels, process nutrients and aid in fertility. Your body produces cholesterol naturally in the liver, and your diet is only a secondary source of cholesterol, but it is important to be certain that the cholesterol you eat is produced naturally from whole fruits, vegetables, nuts and meat. Processed foods can contain chemically sourced fats that are unhealthy and should be avoided always.
Natural sources of cholesterol can also include grass-fed meat, cage-free eggs and dairy from cow, goat or sheep milk.
So, there’s no need to fear cholesterol, our healthy hearts need it, but it is a good idea to keep it natural with a proper balance in perspective and in your diet.