Thursday, November 11, 2010

Heart Disease: The Cholesterol Link 2 - HDL Cholesterol

HDL Cholesterol
As mentioned in my previous blog (November 10, 2010) cholesterol is a waxy substance that is important for a number of vital functions, like forming vitamin D, hormone production and as part of the nerves and other cells in your body. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also known as HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol plays a vital role in lowering the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

On the other hand, high levels of LDL does just the opposite, causing the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which can then lead to a heart attack or stroke..

HDL Lowers Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
HDL or good cholesterol appears to prevent cardiovascular disease by removing LDL cholesterol from the blood and recycling it in the liver. By removing the LDL cholesterol from your blood, HDL reduces the chances of plaque buildup and the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

HDL cholesterol should be above 40 mg/dL. If it is below 40 mg/dL, you risk of having a heart attack or stroke increases. The desirable ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol is about 1 to 4 (1 mg/dl HDL to 4 mg/dl LDL cholesterol).

Improving Your HDL to LDL Ratio
One way to reduce your risk of heart disease is to improve the boost your HDL cholesterol and lower your LDL cholesterol. There are several things that you can do to achieve that goal - diet, exercise and lose weight if you are overweight.

Diet. One of the most important things you can do to reduce your LDL cholesterol is to avoid foods that contain trans fat and limit your intake of foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. It is not enough to just reduce your intake of cholesterol, since your body makes most of the cholesterol that is in your blood. By limiting your intake of trans fat and saturated fat, you may be able to reduce the amount of cholesterol that your liver produces.

In addition to controlling your fat intake, it is also important to eat foods that are high-fiber, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, dried beans and peas. F

Avoiding foods with added sugar (including high fructose corn syrup), and highly refined and processed foods, especially foods made with white flour is also important, especially if you are trying to cut calories to lose weight.

Exercise. Exercise can help to lower your cholesterol and improve the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol in your blood, improve blood circulation and strengthen your heart muscles.

Lose weight. If you are overweight, lose the excess body weight. Studies show that losing as little as 10 percent of your body weight can result in tremendous improvements in a number of health parameters, including lowering your total cholesterol and improving the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol.

Good vs. Bad Cholesterol
High Blood Cholesterol, Treatments