Sunday, February 5, 2012

The shocking truth about Cholesterol

Don't be wooed by products promising to be low on "Cholesterol" , because if you don't consume enough cholesterol, your body will make up for it... your liver, to be precise!

For some, the contents of this post may be too hard to believe, but my mission is to debunk myths, no matter how ridiculous they might sound right now. To give you an analogy, there was time when somebody who said that the Earth is ROUND was considered insane. OR there was a decade during which Smoking was not considered harmful... But over the time, research and scientists suggest otherwise.. This is one of those things..

These days , everyone you know is talking about lowering ' Cholesterol '  , which is thought to be a leading cause of Heart Disease.( Few can spell it correctly with an 'e' after the 't').

Here's the shocker: Our body is the most efficient manufacturer of Cholesterol !

How can something so harmful be produced by the body then???
How can our very own liver & intestines produce cholesterol?
Not only that, the liver produces 75% of your body's required cholesterol and sends it to wherever in the body,  it is required.
Also, if you don't consume enough cholesterol , your body will produce the required amount on its own for its use.

All this happens because, our body requires cholesterol!!
  1. It is used to build and maintain membranes.
  2. In the liver, Cholesterol is converted to Bile which aids in absorption of fat along with Fat soluble Vitamins like A,D,E,K in the intestines. 
  3. It also aids in the production of Vitamin D
  4. It aids in synthesis of Hormones;
    • Adrenal Gland Hormones
    • Progesterone 
    • Estrogen
    • Testosterone
So is there a Good and Bad Cholesterol ? ( HDL cholesterol & LDL Cholesterol?)
  • HDL : High Density Lipo-protein
  • LDL: Low Density Lipo-protein
The above are NOT types of cholesterol. Cholesterol is simply cholesterol.HDL and LDL are types of proteins. Cholesterol makes its way to and from tissues by combining itself with other proteins , since fat and our watery blood do not mix well. (HDL and LDL are those proteins).

If cholesterol is not the demon, then what causes heart disease?
Heard Disease is caused by Inflammation of arteries casued by Oxidation of LDL , not due to concentration of LDL.

How does Oxidation of LDLs occur?
Oxidation of LDLs occur when LDLs react with Free Radicals and other factors.

What are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules.These free radicals occur naturally in the body,however air pollution, Smoking, UV Rays of the sun, chemicals from food, unhealthy processed food, and a lot of other things we put into our bodies also give rise to these damaging particles.  Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction. They turn extremely dangerous when they react with components like DNA and tamper or modify cells. They may even cause cell death. To prevent free radical damage the body has a defense system of Antioxidants 

How to reduce Free Radicals?
By consuming foods rich in Anti-oxidants:
  • Vegetables: red cabbage, spinach, red beet, brussels sprouts
  • Fruits: grapefruit, bilberry, pineapple, watermelons, grapes – particularly red grapes, orange, plum and pomegranate
  • Nuts: walnuts, pecans, groundnuts and hazelnuts
  • Legumes: soybeans, pinto beans and broad beans
  • Dry Fruits: dates, prunes and apricots
  • Spices: cinnamon, cloves and cayenne pepper
  • Meat Food Sources: Chicken, lamb, fish (salmon), turkey and crab meat
Other important pointers to reduce Oxidation of LDLs?
  • Stop Smoking
  • Reduce consumption of Trans Fats 
  • If you have Diabetes or any other Metabolic conditions , get it under control by Exercising and eating Healthy
OK, But What the hell are Trans- Fats now??
Trans Fats are those fats that are not occur naturally and are usually solid at room temperature. Trans fats are formed during hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is a process by which unsaturated fats are bombarded with hydrogen.  These are commercially used in foods to extend their shelf life or to add texture/taste to the food. 

So don't be wooed by products promising to be low on "Cholesterol" , because if you don't consume enough cholesterol, your body will make up for it... your liver, to be precise!

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