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LDL Bad Cholesterol, All The Facts

LDL or Low Density Lipoprotein is also known as "bad" cholesterol. It got this bad reputation because elevated levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

When too much LDL (bad) cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances, it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, heart attack or stroke can result.

Cholesterol is not soluble in water can therefore must be carried in our water based bloodstream in various transport molecules. These transport molicules come in the form of certain proteins called apolipoproteins. They can wrap around cholesterol and other blood fats to form lipoproteins - which is essentially a combination of protein and fats. Like a fleet of buses, lipoproteins pick up and carry loads of cholesterol through the blood.

There are many types of lipoproteins and each has a different function.

The largest is called Chylomicrons and they mainly transport fats from the intestines to the liver. They carry triglyceride fats and cholesterol that comes from our diet as well as those manufactured by the liver.

Next is Very Low Density LDL or VLDL which are made in the liver and deliver triglycerides to various tissues for energy production (muscles) and storage (body fats).

Then there is Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL which is the major transporter of cholesterol and triglycerides from the liver to other parts of the body for various functions. You need your LDL to be as low. According to the American Heart Association lowering the LDL cholesterol is the most important factor in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.

There are other types of LDL namely Small Dense LDL and Oxidized LDL. Small Dense LDL are more likely to stick to the inner linings of arteries and promote atherosclerosis. Oxidized LDL are form when free radicals cause damage to LDL molicules. This make then more likely to promote damage to the inner linings of arteries and for atherosclerosis to develop.

Finally there is High Density Lipoproteins or HDL. HDL is known as "Good" cholesterol as it takes cholesterol from various parts of the body to the liver where it is excreted in bile. HDL also carries antioxidants enzymes and vitamins to prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.

Cholesterol levels in our body is greatly influence by the food that we take. To lower LDL levels, the first step is to eliminate or reduce saturated and trans facts in your diet. Reduce your intake of cookies, pies, pastries, fries, hamburgers and bacon. Instead focus on increasing your intake of vegetables and fruits.

Other foods that have shown to lower bad cholesterol are walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, oatmeal, oat bran, fish and olive oil.

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