CHOLESTEROL - Salad Dodgers

Salad Dodgers - Sian Brooks personal trainer
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CHOLESTEROL

The Good and the Bad 

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Cholesterol, how is it different to fat? Cholesterol is a completely different molecule altogether. It plays a vital role in the function and structure of cell membranes so without it, we, and life all around use would simple die, no cellular life could exist without it. However, too much and we can end up in a similar terminal situation. As it is present in all cells, we can’t escape consuming it, particularly in terms of animal consumption where cells have a greater density of cholesterol than plant cells. Most cardiovascular diseases result from atherosclerosis, which is where cholesterol, fatty materials and other bits of cells accumulate and form a hard, rough coating of vessel walls. It happens because these molecules are transported by the blood stream and since the blood stream flows everywhere in the body, cholesterol can be deposited anywhere is chooses to stick if it is not used at a cellular level. Atherosclerosis leads to heart attacks, strokes and any other cardiovascular related diseases so it is a major concern and is related to 43% of all deaths in the US.

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Now, as we’ve previously touched on, cholesterol is subcategorised into LDL(low density lipoprotein) and HDL(high density lipoprotein) Named so because cholesterol is transported by lipoproteins in the blood. LDL is considered “bad” because it is deposited in tissues whereas HDL is delivered to the liver for digestion and therefore either used in cells or excreted. Foods with high cholesterol levels include dairy products such as hard cheese, whole milk and cream, processed food and fatty meats.

It is worth mentioning that the British Heart Foundation have found that heart disease is not so linked to the consumption of eggs but rather the fatty foods we eat with them, and cook them in. It is also worth noting that your ability to digest cholesterol can have links to genetics, similar to how your body’s ability to digest protein has links to genetics so irrelevant of how good you think your diet is, nobody is free from potentially high cholesterol so it’s worth having checked. Products such as Benecol work by blocking the uptake of cholesterol into the bloodstream during digestion in the gut. However, it is important to note that the benefits rely on regular and sufficient use so if you are using these products you must stick to the plan recommended and sometimes this means limiting your calorie intake elsewhere in your diet if you are on a calorie controlled diet as well, as you mustn’t forget that these products also contain calories which will add up just as any other food source or supplement.

Foods that are high in HDL include:
Monounsaturated fats such as olive and canola oil
Avocados
Fish rich in Omega-3
Foods rich in soluble fibre - Oats, grains, seeds, pulses and vegetables

It is important that you keep your overall cholesterol level below 5, your LDL level below 3 and your HDL level above 1