What You Need to Know About Cholesterol, and Why Your Doctor is Probably Wrong
We keep hearing the same thing over and over again. If you have high cholesterol, you will need to take medication (statins) and change your lifestyle, or else you’ll die of a heart attack. The only problem is, that’s not exactly true.
Here’s what cholesterol actually is, according to medicinenet.com:
The most common type of steroid in the body. Cholesterol has a reputation for being associated with an increased risk for heart and blood vessel disease. However, cholesterol is essential to the formation of bile acids, vitamin D, progesterone, estrogens (estradiol, estrone, estriol), androgens (androsterone, testosterone), mineralocorticoid hormones (aldosterone, corticosterone), and glucocorticoid hormones (cortisol). Cholesterol is also necessary to the normal permeability and function of the membranes that surround cells. Although some cholesterol is obtained from the diet, most cholesterol is made in the liver and other tissues.
Cholesterol is so important for your body, that you’ll quickly die if you cease producing it in the liver. Yet, we are still being told to bring our levels down.
Here’s a brief look at the various types of cholesterol, which are more than simply “good” or “bad”
HDL (High Density Lipoprotein):
HDL carries cholesterol from the bloodstream back to the liver. It’s known as the “good” form of cholesterol because of its ability to clean up the blood vessels along the way.
LDL Type A (Low Density Lipoprotein A)
These are also known as large particle LDL, and are involved in carrying cholesterol from the liver around the body through the bloodstream. This type of LDL cholesterol is like a big, fluffy cotton ball, and does not stick to arterial walls. Additionally, LDL-A is sensitive to the consumption of dietary fat. These particles have not been linked to coronary artery disease, and in fact, aid in improving overall health. It has an anti-inflammatory effect.
LDL Type B (Low Density Lipoprotein B)
These are also known as small particle LDL, and also carry cholesterol from the liver around the body through the bloodstream. These particles can clump and stick to arterial walls, and are a flagrant marker for heart disease. Additionally, LDL-B is sensitive to the consumption of dietary carbohydrate. This is one of the links between a high processed carbohydrate diet and increased coronary artery disease. It is extremely inflammatory.
vLDL (Very Low Density Lipoproteins)
This type of lipoprotein is produced in the liver, and it provides body tissues with fat in triglyceride form. High levels of vLDL are associated with higher bodyfat levels and cardiovascular disease.
So, some of the “bad” cholesterol is actually “good”, and none of it alone causes heart disease. It was some good science back in the 1950s that got us here. Unfortunately, there’s way more good science that shuts down the “good” vs “bad” cholesterol myth available to us now.
Instead of relying on a general cholesterol test, ask your doctor for a cholesterol particle breakdown, which will not only tell you HDL and LDL, but will break down the LDL into Type A and Type B. Also, request a triglycerides and vLDL ratio test. Most are covered by your insurance, but neither patients nor doctors know to request them!
The more you know…