We’ve all heard about cholesterol, usually from our doctors when we get a health check, or when we’re picking out certain foods to eat. However, important facts about cholesterol are understood by almost no one. In fact, most people think of cholesterol only as something dangerous and nothing more. So take note and learn the important facts about cholesterol so you can keep control of your health!
What it is:
Understanding the ‘what’ is always the first part to learning anything. In short, cholesterol is a combination of protein & fat, technically called a ‘lipoprotein’. The key detail is the ratio of protein to fat. More protein makes a cholesterol molecule healthier and allows it to actually help transport free fatty acids out of the blood. Conversely, less protein & more fat makes what’s called a low-density-lipoprotein or LDL. LDL’s can build up in blood vessels and cause severe health issues. On the other hand, molecules with a high protein to fat ratio are simply called high-density-lipoproteins or HDL.
What it does:
Cholesterol is actually a very important molecule to have in the body. Specifically, cholesterol molecules are used to make up important hormones like testosterone, estrogen and adrenaline. Additionally, HDL cholesterol can help transport free fatty acids that are normally floating in the blood. Without a high activity level, free fatty acids can be very difficult to clear from the body, potentially causing additional health issues.
How to manage it:
Knowing the details of what cholesterol is & does helps understand it, but without a strategy to manage it, there’s no point. Overall, there are 2 main ways to improve your levels of LDL & HDL. The first way to manage cholesterol is through diet, specifically fiber. In essence, the human body can not digest & absorb fiber, but that doesn’t stop it from trying. In the effort to digest fiber, the digestive system releases bile. Bile contains high amounts of LDL’s, and because fiber can’t be broken down, the bile gets excreted from the body forever. So an increase in fiber will cause a decrease in LDL cholesterol.
The second way to manage cholesterol is through exercise. As mentioned, high activity can decrease free fatty acids through simple calorie burning. Specifically, the activity needs to be long duration cardiovascular exercise. Even if the exercise isn’t intense, completing it for a long time will allow the body to use fat for energy instead of carbs. By using fat, the body is able to shift the ratio of fat to protein and have higher levels of HDL. So work in these important facts about cholesterol to truly take control of your body and live healthier!