Everybody knows that cholesterol level has a lot to do with your chances of getting heart disease. It is one of the reasons which make cholesterol always playing that “bad guy” you are supposed to keep distance, which includes cut short your favorite food, drinks and requires many medications and complicated and bland diets. And, like it is been always told the higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack.
Because cholesterol narrows down the arteries by fat accumulation over the time, slowing or blocking the blood flows to the heart and leading to heart attacks. But, cholesterol has not been playing always as the bad guy we knew. It also has a twin brother which plays the “good guy”.
Some amount of cholesterol is needed in our body for secretion of certain steroids and bile acid from liver. However, raised levels of cholesterol (especially LDL or bad cholesterol) can increase the risk of both heart attack and stroke. High cholesterol primarily occurs due to unhealthy lifestyle or genetic factors. Raised levels of cholesterol often do not produce any symptoms and it is essential to measure its levels in blood to know your cholesterol related risk
– Dr .Gunjan Kapoor
– Director, Institute of Heart, Jaypee Hospital, Noida
So, the “bad guy” is bad cholesterol, scientifically known as LDL (low-density lipoproteins) and “good guy” is the “good cholesterol”, known as HDL (high-density lipoproteins). LDL is the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries while HDL helps keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries.
How is HDL good cholesterol for the heart?
- Protection against heart diseases: HDL provides a protection against heart diseases; therefore, higher numbers are better. A level less than 40 mg/dL. is low and is considered a major risk factor for increasing the risk of developing heart disease. HDL levels of 60 mg/dL or more help to lower your risk for heart disease.
- Cell stability: good cholesterol is an essential fat providing stability in every cell of the body.
- Scavengers: it scavenges the or remove the bad cholesterol (LDL)
- Recycle LDL: HDL reduces and recycles bad cholesterol by transporting it to the liver for processing.
- Maintenance crew: Damage to the inner walls is the first step in the process of atherosclerosis causing heart attacks and strokes. Good cholesterol acts as a maintenance crew for the inner walls of blood vessels scrubbing the walls clean and keeping it healthy.
How can good cholesterol levels be increased?
If you have low levels of HDL and looking for the tips to increase, is the list of some do’s and don’t to win the race for being healthy.
- Exercise regularly: 30-60 minutes of daily cardio which raises your heart rate, improves the HDL levels by up to 5% increase. You can try brisk walks, running, swimming and any other activity that suits you.
- Quit smoking: smoking decreases HDL and quitting now can increase 10% of HDL. You have a good reason to quit.
- Eating healthy fats: Likely good and bad cholesterol is the good and bad fat. Eating monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fast as in avocado, olives, omega-3 fatty acids, can help in the rise of HDL. Avoid Trans fats. And don’t believe the fact been told egg yolk is not good for the heart, that’s a myth. Egg yolk contains good cholesterol and is very healthy to eat for everyone including heart patients. Trust me I am practicing researcher and you can avoid your doctor’s advice for eating eggs.