Posts Tagged ‘weight management’

Cholesterol: Tricky and Sticky

May 14th, 2010

Cholesterol is a waxy fat derivate our body needs for variety of daily functions. There are two types of cholesterol, HDL and LDL. HDL is short for high density lipoprotein. LDL is short for low density lipoprotein. They are commonly referred to as bad and good cholesterol, where LDL is a bad cholesterol and HDL is a good cholesterol. We need both to maintain good health. With such acronyms, it is easy to mix them up. It is simple though, LDL as in Low, we need in low amounts, HDL as in High, we need in high amounts. Very handy when looking at a food label or a test result.

Cholesterol has a number of functions in our body.  It provides and maintains cellular structural integrity, participates in and facilitates cellular nutrient exchange, protects cells against temperature oscillations, boosts mental performance, helps build strong bones, strengthens muscles, helps sugar regulation and tissue repair,  supports central nervous system during sleep, facilitates neuron growth and connectivity, maintains myelin sheath around  neurons, aids digestion and bile acids synthesis, prevents skin surface pathogen penetration, acts as a precursor to steroids and builds, maintains and regulates hormones. A busy little molecule.

Obviously we need less bad LDL cholesterol and more good HDL cholesterol. Sadly, due to poor diets, most people have too much bad cholesterol and not enough good cholesterol. This can be corrected trough diet and making good food choices.

While we can synthesize some cholesterol in our body it is not enough to meet our daily requirements and we have to supplement minor amounts trough food. The problem is that most people supplement more that minute amounts needed. So much so that ingested cholesterol amounts go from minute to huge. And huge amounts of cholesterol lead to blood vessel clogging, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases and, yes, heart attack and stroke. A sticky and dangerous situation indeed. So just how much cholesterol is enough? Let’s take a look…

An average person needs around 1250mg of cholesterol daily. Of that, our body synthesizes 80% (1000 mg) and we have to supplement the remaining 20%. To avoid associated health problems cholesterol supplementation should never exceed 20% or 250 mg of our daily requirement. While  our body can adjust to occasional higher intake by reducing its own cholesterol production, it will not work if done on regular basis and can have serious  consequences.

Hence cholesterol ingestion must be kept in check. This is where it gets a bit tricky. We cannot see nor taste cholesterol in food. The only way to control the intake is to check labels and be informed about food that contains it. As a rule, meat contains large amounts of cholesterol, bad cholesterol. And that leads us to a dilemma. Meat means protein and proteins are very good for us. However meat also comes with bad cholesterol and that is not good for us. Luckily, not all meat has the same cholesterol content. The trick is to choose meat that contains less cholesterol and stick with it. Forget 20 oz steaks three times a week, choose an 8 oz one instead. Choose fish over tenderloins. Or choose alternative protein sources such as tofu, soy, protein shakes and many more.

For more ideas and protein sources without cholesterol consult Herbal Diet today.

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