One of the most common questions we hear is whether a high level of cholesterol is good or bad. There is not a simple answer for the question, as the two cholesterol types can be easily distinguished: LDL and HDL, one being good, while the other is considered as being harmful for the body.
Major types of Cholesterol
A good cholesterol ratio is the right balance of the different cholesterols in the blood. The two main forms are HDL (Good cholesterol) or High Density Lipoprotein and LDL (Bad cholesterol) or Low Density Lipoprotein. LDL and HDL undertake the unique task of carrying vitamins and other substances through the blood. LDL cholesterol is high in fatty acids and low in protein and hence more prone to oxidation. It delivers cholesterol to the tissues.
Process Leading To Good & Bad Cholesterol Formation
When you do not provide your body with sufficient antioxidants like selenium, Vitamin A, C and E, LDL gets oxidised much faster. Hence it is referred to as the bad cholesterol. As far as LDL doesn’t get oxidised, it is not harmful. On the other hand, HDL cholesterol is high in protein and carries lesser fatty acids. It picks up the excess cholesterol left by LDL and transports it back to the liver or to the tissues, which need it. Hence it is called the good cholesterol. So if you have an undesirable ratio of very high LDL and very low HDL, beware. Most of the people suffering from heart disease show a high heart risk ratio. This ratio not only increases the coronary risk but also leads to insulin resistance, type II diabetes and even depresses the immune system.
Can Vegetarians Also Get Cholesterol Issues?
The answer is YES! I have often seen vegetarians getting shocked on noticing their high lipid profile. However, whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian, no one wears the shield against heart disease. Scrutinize your diet and soon enough you will be able to nab the culprit. Refined oil, cheese, products made from white flour, sweets, chocolates, ice creams, whole milk, fried and processed foods are all LDL boosting agents. Besides unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise, stress and genetics are also responsible for too much LDL. The degree to which your arteries can get damaged depends on-
- The amount of free radicals in your body.
- The amount of antioxidants (found in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.) consumed, as they suppress free radical activity.
- The type of oil used.
- The amount of soluble fibre in your diet.