24 Sep Cholesterol, Friend and Foe
Cholesterol is essential for good health and a critical building block for the cells in your body. Here’s a primer on how cholesterol can be both beneficial and disadvantageous to your health.
This waxy, fat-like substance is produced naturally, mainly in your liver. But it also comes from the food you eat, like: eggs, fatty meats and cheese.
Cholesterol is a critical component for essential functions. Your skin uses cholesterol to convert sunlight into vitamin D. Some glands need it to make hormones, such as estrogen, testosterone and cortisol. Cholesterol helps your liver create fat dissolving bile acids which helps with digestion. And it’s a crucial building block of every cell membrane.
Cholesterol doesn’t dissolve in blood, so it needs special proteins to help move it through the bloodstream. These lipoproteins wrap themselves around cholesterol molecules and deliver them to where they are needed most. There are two main types: high density lipoproteins, called HDL, and low density lipoproteins, called LDL.
Most of the body’s cholesterol is made up of LDL, also known as the “bad” cholesterol. When too much of it builds up in your bloodstream, it sticks to artery walls and helps form plaque, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
HDL is considered the good kind of cholesterol because it acts as a scavenger, absorbing excess cholesterol from your blood and taking it back to your liver where it’s flushed from your body.
It’s important to monitor your cholesterol levels regularly, so you can help keep your HDL high and your LDL low. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, as well as not smoking and keeping alcohol intake to a minimum are all evidence-based ways of supporting healthy cholesterol levels. To learn more about diet and exercise for optimizing heart health, please reference my blog sections on Heart Health, Diet, Exercise and Lifestyle.
If you or someone you know has cholesterol or heart issues, feel free to drop me a line on the “contact us” page on this site. Naturopathic medicine is based on individualizing health through a focused, efficient means that address the underlying cause of dis-ease to ultimately help people gain more healthy years doing what they love in their personal and professional lives.
I treat patients locally at my Naturopathic practice in Vancouver, B.C.
To honoring your health potential!
Licensed Naturopathic Physician, Menopause Clinician, Acupuncturist, Author, and Health Educator