Despite its bad reputation, cholesterol is necessary for various body functions such as hormone regulation; vitamin D; bile; sebum; and nerves. The liver is responsible for making the 1,000 milligrams of cholesterol we need daily. Because the body produces cholesterol on its own it is advised to limit daily consumption of cholesterol from food to 300 milligrams (one egg= 266 mg).
Cholesterol’s bad reputation is a result of the escalating number of individuals with atherosclerosis. This artery disease causes heart attacks. When lipid materials (fat) accumulate in the inner walls of the arteries, this build up of plague, limits blood flow, and raises blood pressure which in turn increases the risk of heart attacks.
The terms good cholesterol or HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and bad cholesterol or LDL (low-density lipoprotein) are used to determine the level of cholesterol present in the body . The HDL is the cholesterol that rapidly travels to and from the liver to the blood stream breaking down fats and utilizing them for necessary functions. However, LDL is sluggish and makes frequent trips to the liver which drops cholesterol (which is basically fat) during its trip. These drops build up in the artery walls and harden, and then cause blockage.
In the family unit, it is presumed that if the parent (s) has high cholesterol the children will as well. This also suggests that adult heart diseases or cardiovascular diseases can be prevented later in life when a well balanced diet and regular exercise is incorporated during childhood. Cholesterol is correlated with obesity and inactivity as well.
Choosing a diet that is no more than 30 percent total calories from fat is one focus to control cholesterol levels. So, fat eaten in adequate portions is essential. Diets high in saturated fat raise cholesterol.
Foods that increase high levels of LDL are: animal fats like, butter, cheese, eggs and meat; margarine; tropical oils likes coconut and palm oil. Of course trans fat should be avoided at all cost as well as hydrogenated oil often found in shelf food like peanut butter, crackers, box dinners, etc. The best cooking oils are olive, peanut, and canola which are polyunsaturated.
To stabilize cholesterol levels it is advised to increase exercise, vitamin C and dietary fiber. Smokers are also at high risk, so quitting the habit will also lower levels.
An herbal supplement to consider is Guggul. It cleanses the circulatory system by removing the fat from the arteries. Eliminate fat from with the body with fiber supplements such as psyllium hulls, apple pectin, and oat bran.