In medical terms and in everyday life, cholesterol has become a byword for bad health; indeed over the last decade there has increasingly been a concern surrounding high-cholesterol levels and how these can have a negative effect on a person's health. Though it is true that high levels of cholesterol can have a bad effect, there are certain cholesterol myths that need to be dispelled.
Whether because of a lack of teaching or because of the way that it has been portrayed in the media, most people believe that cholesterol is a solely bad addition to a diet. That is not the case and, though it is not generally known, there are actually two types of cholesterol – LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). In fact, most of our required cholesterol is provided by a naturally occurring part of the human digestive system, with the liver producing around 1000 milligrams of it a day; the problem is that, with the liver already producing almost all of the cholesterol we need, it is easy to take in too much through our diets.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced by the liver and that can be found in certain foods; it is used to make Vitamin D and some hormones, and it is also used to build cell walls and to create bile salts that help in the body's digestion of fat. The sources and quality of cholesterol vary considerably, but it is an important part of your diet and is well worth monitoring. Your GP is likely to check your cholesterol levels, especially as you become older, and they can advise you on whether you have a healthy cholesterol rate or not.
High density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol) is considered to be the 'good cholesterol'. Mostly found in natural foods like beans, lentils, garlic, onions and fish, HDL cholesterol is a protective part of your digestive system that actively travels the blood stream removing harmful cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol reduce the risks of heart disease whereas lower levels can increase the risk, although it also depends on the level of LDL cholesterol
Low density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) is the 'bad cholesterol' that has sparked most of the public concern with high levels of cholesterol. Monitoring the levels of LDL cholesterol is a good way of predicting the likelihood of heart conditions and your doctor is likely to be concerned if your levels become too high. Mostly found in processed and fast foods, LDL cholesterol is avoidable if you maintain a healthy, moderate and balanced diet. Eating food from the local takeaway is the quickest way to take in this risky cholesterol.
Over the years there have been a number of foods touted as being 'bad' for your cholesterol intake. Eggs, for example, have been demonised in the past for containing high levels of cholesterol, however more recently it has been discovered that when eaten in moderation products like eggs and cheese are no more harmful than other non-dairy products when consumed in moderation. Although it is best to monitor how much diary and saturated fat you take in, it is not always the best choice to cut it out completely and you can actually do more harm than good if you completely eliminate necessary food types, like fat and protein, from your diet. It is however advised that you avoid foods that are high in LDL cholesterol as much as possible. It's generally known as being important to your well-being anyway, but regularly digesting unhealthy processed foods is bad for not only your cholesterol levels, but your overall health too.
If you have been told by your doctor that you have too high a level of LDL cholesterol in your body then it is possible that you will have been already recommended or prescribed prescription medication that can aid your body in normalising your cholesterol levels.Simvastatin, for example, is an effective prescription medication that actively aids the digestive system in lowering the level of LDL cholesterol in the body whilst also working to promote the increase in healthy HDL cholesterol. Effective and easy to take, Simvastatin – and other treatments like it - can play an important part in improving your health when taken in conjunction with a healthier diet and lifestyle.
As with most conditions, the best way to ensure that your body does not suffer with an excess of bad cholesterol is to maintain a healthy and moderate lifestyle. Eating natural and healthy foods and exercising regularly will limit the risk of imbalance in your cholesterol levels and it is important that you plan ahead to ensure that you are getting the right combination of nutrients and food types.