High cholesterol increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Other risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity. Heredity also plays a role. The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk1. Yet, cholesterol has an important function also1.
Cholesterol is an essential substance for your body. Your body needs it for to create new body cells, for your brain!, Gall and hormones. Most cholesterol is produced by your liver. Only a small portion comes from food2 . The dietary cholesterol is absorbed into the blood and transported to the liver via the intestines. The liver makes Cholesterol available into the bloodstream to be transported to the body’s cells, where it serves as a building material.
Excess cholesterol (its not the cause, but the effect…)
Normal cholesterol levels are important for good health and cholesterol is certainly no enemy of your body. However, in response to inflammations, your body will produce extra cholesterol, again a healthy reflex of a well-functioning body. This is what we call a high cholesterol level. The elimination of the cause (the inflammation) is as important as the fight against the result (high cholesterol). Our preferred approach is to focus on the inflammation the root cause of cardiovascvular disease and increased cholesterol. And preferably in a natural way.
HDL and LDL
Its is the HDL that carries excess cholesterol as much as possible to the liver. There the HDL cholesterol is re-used again or it leaves our body through as waste matter discharged from the bowels1. HDL cholesterol is a good cleaner. And a high HDL is generally healthy!
LDL is often called “bad” cholesterol. Because excess and especially oxidized (sticky) LDL cholesterol builds up in the artery walls. Constriction of the arteries will in the longer term cause a heart attack or a stroke. A low LDL can reduce such problems, but just as important is to prevent oxidation of LDL. For example, by the eliminating fast sugars from your diet.
Again our preference is to deal with the cause of elevated cholesterol (LDL mostly) which is the inflammation, preferably in such a way that also prevents oxidation of LDL (adhesion)..
Total cholesterol is not enough to determine your risk of cardiovascular disease1. Your doctor will also look at: LDL, HDL and triglyceride levels.
Cholesterol ratio and risk assessment
A high cholesterol is one of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Your physician can determines whether you have other risk factors that may increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and how to approach is this.
To make a good estimate of your risk for heart disease, your doctor will measure your cholesterol ratio. The lower the cholesterol ratio, the healthier. The cholesterol ratio is total cholesterol divided by HDL levels. A high HDL cholesterol gives a low ratio and so is good news. The cholesterol ratio is a better predictor of cardiovascular disease than your total cholesterol1.
Discuss the results of a cholesterol test and your family history with your physician. The table below shows results for total cholesterol.
1 Netherlands Hartstichting (Heart foundation)
2 Netherlands Voedingscentrum
3 Dr. K. Verburg, author of “de voedselzandloper”