Cholesterol and the heart: a dangerous relationship

When your blood levels are too high, cholesterol is rightly considered a major enemy
health, because settling on the wall of the arteries causes lesions that thicken and harden them: a process called atherosclerosis that eventually leads to the formation of fat deposits, called atherosclerotic plaques, which can hinder or block blood flow. cause heart attack and stroke. .

It should not be demonized
But cholesterol should not always be demonized and we should not tend to reduce it too much, as it is an essential substance for many vital functions of the body and represents the basic component of important hormones, such as testosterone, cortisol and estrogen, as well as vitamin D and bile, needed to assimilate intestinal fats. Cholesterol is also used to build the cell wall, particularly the nervous system, which gives it the right degree of flexibility and permeability.
There are two types of cholesterol depending on the two types of different density proteins that carry it in the blood, LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). The difference between the two carrier proteins is related to the fact that LDL tends to “stick” to the walls of the arteries, making them stiff and prone to rupture (which is why LDL cholesterol is called “bad”) while HDL, lacking these characteristics, is beneficial and protective for the arteries.
According to the Higher Institute of Health for Disease Prevention, total cholesterol values ​​below 200 mg / dl are optimal with LDL below 100 mg / dl and HDL equal to or greater than 50 mg / dl. When total cholesterol is too high and the ratio of HDL to LDL is unbalanced, it is called hypercholesterolemia, which can be hereditary or familial (associated with a series of genetic mutations), linked to diet, too many calories, too saturated or trans. fats, too many simple sugars), diseases such as diabetes, endocrine problems of the thyroid gland or little physical activity.

Lifestyle
When you have high cholesterol you immediately think about foods and what foods need to be reduced or eliminated, not to mention that only 20 percent of cholesterol is introduced through food, while up to 80 percent is endogenous, that is, it is synthesized by our body. .
Therefore, nutrition should not be demonized too much, but more attention should be paid to lifestyles. A healthy organism produces cholesterol according to the amount that is introduced with the diet: the more cholesterol we take from the diet, the less we produce and vice versa, in order to maintain the correct balance of this molecule in our organism.
However, some long-term misconduct, such as poor lifestyle or overfeeding, can alter this mechanism, as can a car that starts to malfunction when the wrong fuel is used.

The tips
So what can be done to keep cholesterol within normal limits?
Based on the diet, the American Hearth Association guidelines recommend a diet that includes an abundant intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and oilseeds, high-fiber cereals that reduce the absorption of cholesterol, inhibit the its hepatic synthesis and elimination. , eating fatty fish rich in “good” omega 3 fats, lean meats and replacing saturated fats such as fried sausages and cheeses with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil raises good HDL cholesterol.
It is also important to minimize salt and processed meats, sugar, refined carbohydrates, sweets and sugary drinks that by stimulating insulin production induce an increase in hepatic cholesterol synthesis; the elimination of trans fats found in industrial and highly processed products and formed by the cooking of high temperature fats and hydrogenated fats used as ingredients in various products of the food industry and easily identifiable by reading the labels, as hydrogenation must always be declared by the manufacturer.
Also avoid overweight and especially fat in the abdominal area, do not smoke and practice
daily physical activity that raises “good” cholesterol at the expense of “bad” cholesterol, preferably practicing aerobic activities such as brisk walking, cycling, running, or swimming.

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