Why do you need cholesterol?
That’s right, you do need cholesterol. This soft, waxy substance is found not only in your bloodstream but also in every cell in your body, where it helps to produce cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids that help you digest fat. Cholesterol also helps in the formation of your memories and is vital for neurological function.
Your liver makes about three-quarters or more of your body’s cholesterol.
The most frequently requested cholesterol testing is for LDL (usually referred to as the bad cholesterol), HDL (commonly referred to as the good cholesterol) and triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood that the body uses for energy). Current research shows that these numbers are not accurate predictors for cardiovascular disease risk. Instead, the more accurate predictor is testing your actual LDL particle number.
This is important news because it’s possible to have normal total or LDL cholesterol, but have a high number of LDL particles. These people are being missed by current screening practices. They might leave the doctor’s office feeling good about their lipid profile when, in fact, they’re at higher risk for heart disease. On the other hand, you have a group of people who have a high total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol, and they may actually have normal LDL particle number, which means they do not have additional risk for heart disease.
The most commonly used test for determining the LDL particle number is the NMR LipoProfile, and many insurance policies cover the cost of this test. This test also shows other markers that point to insulin and/or leptin resistance if this is might be an issue for you. Click here to read more.
What are some lifestyle changes you can make to change these small, dense particles that are more likely to cause plaque in the arteries to large, fluffy cholesterol particles?
Eat a healthy diet. Eat a diet with a low glycemic load (Click here for a searchable database.) and that is high in fiber, phytonutrients, and omega-3’s. It should be plant based, and you should consume plenty of good quality protein such as beans, nuts, seeds, and lean animal protein (ideally organic or grass fed).
Get good quality sleep.
Sleep is essential for healing your body, for maintaining balanced blood sugar, and for your overall health.