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Cholesterol and Fatty Acids

Bad Cholesterol takes cholesterol that is circulating in your blood into the arteries and deposits it on their walls. This build up in the arteries increases your risk of heart disease.
Editorial Team
Published on April 12, 2018

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat like substance that’s found in all cells in the body. It has several useful functions including helping to build your body’s cells. The body needs cholesterol to make hormones, Vitamin D and substances that help you to digest foods. Cholesterol is only found in animals and animal products such as meats, cheese, eggs and milk. It is not found in plants or plant products.

Types of Cholesterol

There are two types of cholesterol circulating in the blood; namely, Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or “Bad” cholesterol and High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) or “Good” cholesterol.

Good Cholesterol (HDL)

Good Cholesterol acts as a scavenger by picking up excess “Bad” cholesterol in the blood and taking it back to the liver where it is broken down.

How to raise Good Cholesterol levels

The following can increase your “Good” cholesterol levels.
  1. Exercise. This should consist of 30 minutes per day, five days per week, for a minimum of 150 minutes per week. Exercise can include walking, jogging, skipping, swimming or lifting weights.
  2. Losing weight and Belly Fat. Loss of Body Fat will improve cholesterol.
  3. Eating “Better Fats”. Avoid “trans fats” or anything with “partially hydrogenated oils”, shortenings, margarine and most baked goods. Eat more healthy fats such as nuts, fish oils (Omega-3 Fatty Acids), olive and canola oils, avocado (pear) and other natural fats that are not heated.
  4. Eating more green vegetables like kale, spinach and cabbage. They contain Omega-3 fatty acids.
  5. Stop smoking. Smoking reduces the levels of “Good” cholesterol and increases the levels of “Bad” cholesterol.

Bad Cholesterol (LDL)

Bad Cholesterol takes cholesterol that is circulating in your blood into the arteries and deposits it on their walls. This build up in the arteries increases your risk of heart disease. The cholesterol deposited in your arteries is called plaque, and can cause narrowing of your arteries.

Elevated levels of “Bad” Cholesterol are caused by high intake of saturated fats such as animal fats and lard, high levels of carbohydrates and obesity.

Increased levels of “Bad” cholesterol can be decreased by
  1. Exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes per day 5x per week. Such exercise may include walking, jogging, swimming, skipping and lifting weights.
  2. Eating more healthy fats such as olive, canola and vegetable oils in the liquid forms and avocado.
  3. Eating more lean meats. Trim the fat off meats such as pork and beef and skin chicken.

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood and serve as a mechanism for storing unused calories. Their high concentration in the blood correlates with the consumption of starchy and other high carbohydrate foods. High levels of Triglycerides in the blood have been linked to atherosclerosis (plaque deposits on the walls of arteries) and by extension to cardiovascular disease.

Elevated Triglycerides Levels are caused by intake of excessive calories from soft drinks, cakes, ice cream and chocolates, high levels of carbohydrates, obesity, poorly controlled diabetes and high levels of alcohol consumption.

Elevated Triglycerides levels can be reduced by
  1. Using Omega-3 fatty acids which are found in fish such as Sardines, Salmon, Krill and as Fish-Oil capsules.
  2. Exercising a minimum of 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week.
  3. Maintaining a healthy weight
  4. Limiting the amount of fats and sugar in your diet
  5. Quitting smoking
  6. Limiting alcohol intake

Values for Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Desired Value
At Risk Value
At High Risk Value
Good Cholesterol
> 1.5 mmols/L
< 1.0 mmols/L
Bad Cholesterol (LDL)
< 2.6 mmols/L
2.7 -5.5 mmols/L
> 5.5 mmols/L
Triglycerides
< 1.7 mmols/L
1.7-5.65 mmols/L
> 5.65 mmols/L

References: National Heart & Lung Institute, Mayo Clinic, American Diabetes Association and Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010


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