Cholesterol and triglycerides are lipids or essential fats. Cholesterol is a part of the structure of the cell membrane.
Triglycerides are fatty acid deposits in the body. Raised blood cholesterol levels can encourage the development of cardio-vascular disease.
Is there really such a thing as good or bad cholesterol?
The molecules are not different. Cholesterol attaches itself to other molecules or “carriers” in order to be transported through the blood. We refer to “good cholesterol” or “bad cholesterol” depending on the type of molecule cholesterol attaches itself to.
It attaches itself to lipoproteins or VLDL (very low density lipoproteins) “carriers”, to LDL lipoproteins (low density lipoproteins) and to HDL (high density lipoproteins).
HDL, VLDL and LDL are the three components of total cholesterol.
VLDLs composed of triglycerides and LDLs composed mainly of cholesterol are both referred to as “bad cholesterol”. HDLs composed of 50% lipids are referred to as “good cholesterol”.
LDL is deposited along the arterial walls. Over time, LDL degenerates and begins to release particles that are toxic to the cells. The cells become “foamy” and the area becomes inflamed. The atheroma or fatty deposit continues to expand.
HDL transports excess cholesterol from the organs to the liver. It cleans the arteries and breaks down and discourages the formation of atheroma or fatty deposits.
Is it bad to have a high level of cholesterol?
It is not always a bad thing to have high total cholesterol levels. A blood test can reveal the results.
If total cholesterol levels are raised but LDL and triglyceride levels are normal, no treatment is required – everything is fine.
On the other hand, if the total, LDL and triglyceride levels are all raised, you should take precautions and follow a recommended treatment.
The blood test should be repeated every six months.
Which steps should I take to keep it under control?
- You should take part in any physical activity such as walking, climbing steps, cycling, swimming, Pilates or dancing, but your breathing shouldn’t be affected. Physical activity prevents high blood pressure, increases HDL or good cholesterol levels and reduces your chances of developing diabetes.
- Stop smoking; keep an eye on your blood pressure, glucose and triglyceride levels. People who are obese, overweight or diabetic are at greater risk of producing high levels of cholesterol.
- Follow a balanced diet. Increase your intake of vegetables, fruits and pulses. Avoid fast food. Increase your intake of soluble fibre, which can be found in pulses, oats, bran and rye. Eat more vegetable proteins, especially soya. Take more antioxidants such as Co-enzyme Q10 and Vitamin A.
What is the key to reducing bad cholesterol?
The main object of the treatment is to control the levels of total cholesterol, of LDL and triglycerides.
To do this, we need to decrease the amount that originates from the liver or eliminate it from the bloodstream.
We also need to reduce the amount of oxidised LDL cholesterol. Oxidised LDL promotes the formation of atheromatous plaque.
Which natural medicines are effective?
A few of the natural medicines that are used for the treatment of cholesterol are: garlic, artichoke, turmeric, Phytosterols, Policosanols, Omega 3, Co-enzyme Q10 and Red Yeast Rice.