Friday, June 17, 2011

Mmmm Cholesterol!


I am one of those people who could never remember which was the "good" cholesterol and what was the "bad". Turns out, I don't really need to and I now know a heck of a lot more about the whole situation than I did before.

One big worry about starting the Paleo way of eating (can you see how I am trending away from the word "diet"?) is possibly causing harm in an area that I currently have no problems with: cholesterol. Of course, I'm young and have no health problems, so there wouldn't be an issue with cholesterol anyway. I just don't want to make it a problem.

So last night I did my overnight fast and gave my little blood sample so I can get some baseline numbers (which I think even after a few weeks not much could have changed just yet). My doctor said I should repeat in 3-6 months to see how things were going.

Now this is where I was a bit shocked in my research - "bad" cholesterol isn't all that bad really. It actually helps our bodies!

This is how they describe LDL or "bad" cholesterol: It actually isn't cholesterol at all, but a transporter of cholesterol from the liver to areas of the body that it is needed. The only difference of LDL to HDL is that HDL takes the excess cholesterol from the blood to the liver for storage when needed.

But if you have too many transporters taking cholesterol into your arteries, isn't that bad? Well, yes. But only if you are having continual problems that require you body to need the cholesterol.

And that is where we have the problem.

Elevated cholesterol isn't the problem, it is just a symptom of an underlying problem. The underlying problem is often inflammation in your arteries and this inflammation is caused by increased insulin in the blood (excess consumption of carbs), trans fats and vegetable oils. When there is inflammation in the arteries, cholesterol is sent for repair. When the inflammation continues, more cholesterol comes to hang out. Eventually you get plaque build-up and wa-la! You now have artery issues and if they are in your heart or neck you are in for a world of problems.

Basically, LDL cholesterol is only the enemy when it is allowed to be oxidized by free radicals and a diet high in antioxidants and low in carbs can reduce oxidization in the body.

Wow, I know this was a lot of information, but I am so glad I read up on this before I got my numbers back. I now know that I should hope for a high HDL and low triglycerides and not be so worried about what my LDL number is because I know I am eating properly to help prevent any inflammation in my body.

So now I wonder, is anyone caring about this out there in this world? Time to hear from you. What are your thoughts/concerns on this way of eating. I know you have some. Good or bad, I'll take 'em!

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