Written by Joe Suppes

Good vs. Bad

Every good story has to have a good guy and a bad guy.  We like nice distinct lines so we know how to label things in our minds.  When dealing with the body and health it is not always that easy to cut a line between good and bad.  You can run into problems like “too much of a good thing” or exceptions to the good vs. bad rule.  There’s gray area when it comes to health, and cholesterol often rests within that gray area.

Understanding Cholesterol

Lets first look at this issue by exploring what is cholesterol.  Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced by the body for a number of different functions in the body. It is used to make hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and cortisol. We need cholesterol for the production of vitamin D in the body. We also use cholesterol to help bring stability to the cell wall’s that surround each cell in our body.


Cholesterol is transported on carriers, the main two we call LDL and HDL.  LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to the various cells of the body.  HDL carries choelsterol from the cell to the liver so it can be processed and excreted.  You may be beginning to see how both LDL and HDL are beneficial, but also why there can be a problem if there is too little HDL and too much LDL.

LDL Builds Up

If cholesterol continues to move toward the cells, carried by LDL, without enough HDL to carry it back, it is thought to be able to build up in the cells of the body.  This becomes important for heart disease because a build-up of cholesterol in the blood vessels that feed the heart can cause problems.  This build-up can cause the vessel to become blocked.  This can lead to decreased flow of blood to the heart, resulting in chest pain, heart attack, even death.

How to Control Choleterol

It is therefore important to keep LDL levels under control by consuming a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber.  Consume good fats that come from nuts, seeds, fish, and olives, which can raise HDL levels.  Also avoid hydrogenated oils, which contain trans fats, because they can lower HDL levels.  Also make sure you get plenty of good exercise, since it can be helpful with your LDL levels.

Balance is the key to good health.  LDL is not bad for us, but because of our  lifestlyes, heavy meat consumption, and consumption of the wrong fats we are far out of balance.  As long as your HDL levels are healthy enough to keep up with your LDL levels, you can continue to lead a healthy life.  Taking control while it’s still early can help to avoid major problems down the road.  The best way to treat heart problems is prevention, so learning about LDL and HDL cholesterol levels before they become too unbalanced is a step in the right direction.

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