For years, increased intake of dietary cholesterol was thought and studied to be a major contributing factor to heart disease and a variety of other health issues. Until further studies were conducted, scientists found that in fact, cholesterol was not the only contributing factor, which spiked research over the last several decades. Because of these claims, people thought of cholesterol like smoking a cigarette: don’t do it; however, that is not quite the case.
Cholesterol makes up each and every cell membrane in your body, you need cholesterol. In addition to holding together each precious cell with its lipoprotein structure (lipid (fat) on the inside and proteins on the outside), cholesterol is used to produce hormones, vitamin D and other substances that help digest food – but, not all cholesterol is made equally!
Two kinds of cholesterol have received attention in more recent years: “bad” low density lipoproteins (LDL-Cholesterol) and “good” high density lipoproteins (HDL-Cholesterol). So, what is the difference?
LDL cholesterol is considered to be the “bad” cholesterol because as it accumulates in the body, having high levels of LDL can lead to plaque build up within your arteries and ultimately can lead to heart disease, strokes and clotting. LDLs are found in foods like margarine, full fat cheeses, milk and yogurts. Limiting the foods you consume that are high in saturated fats is one way to eliminate and lower your LDL levels.
HDL cholesterol known as “good” cholesterol due to its structure. High density lipoproteins have the ability to absorb cholesterol and carry it back to the liver where it is released from the body, therefore reducing the risks of plaque build up in your arteries. Foods high in mono and polyunsaturated fats, Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber help boost HDL levels, such as: avocados, olive oil, flax seed, whole grains and nuts.
Next time you see your doctor, ask about your HDL and LDL levels. Making sure you are within healthy reach of normal levels is a great way to also keep tabs on your vein health. Keeping your arteries clean and free of plaque build up will help eliminate risks of varicose vein development and keep your blood flowing healthily between your toes and your heart!