Thursday, September 28

What is good cholesterol (HDL) and what is it for?

Having high cholesterol is often a cause for concern, although it should be noted that there are two different types: HDL, or good cholesterol, and LDL, known as bad cholesterol. Let’s see what the first is and why it is less well known.

At a certain age, one of the most frequent concerns is cholesterol. And it is not for less, since with an incidence of 24.30% in 2020, cardiovascular diseases They remain the leading cause of death in our country.

Nevertheless, not all cholesterol is badin fact, there is the LDL, which we know as bad cholesterol because it adheres to the blood cavities preventing proper circulation, and the HDL or good cholesterolwhich is important to promote since it can help, even prevent diseases.

Talking generically about cholesterol without defining what we are talking about can be confusing, so let’s see what the difference is and why HDL is known as good.

What is good cholesterol? HDL and LDL

According to Dr. Victoria Cachofeiro, good cholesterol is one who “it is associated with high-density lipoproteins, since its main function is to collect cholesterol from the tissues and take it to the liver”.

In this sense, good cholesterol can help move bad cholesterol away from the arteries to take it back to the liver, an organ in which it is processed and distributed to the rest of the body.

However, the good cholesterol does not completely eliminate the bad of the body, since it only transports between a third and a quarter of the cholesterol in the blood. That is why it is so important to take care of the levels.

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What is the normal range for bad cholesterol or LDL?

According to the study The Role of Specific Components of a Plant-Based Diet in Management of Dyslipidemia and the Impact on Cardiovascular Risk, the bad cholesterol or LDL should not exceed 200 mg/dl.

How to increase good cholesterol?

It is not just about reducing bad cholesterol (LDL), but about making the levels of good cholesterol (HDL) increase and thus balance the balance. This requires making a series of changes in daily activities:

  1. Feeding: a diet rich in healthy fats is one of the most recurrent recommendations for cholesterol reduction. Foods with monounsaturated fats, present in avocado, walnuts or olive oil itself, and polyunsaturated fats, synonymous with omega-3 and 6, should be prioritized.
  2. Avoid saturated fats at all costs, reducing the consumption of whole milk, butter, fatty meats and ultimately processed foods. At the same time, it is recommended to limit carbohydrates such as sugar and increase foods rich in fiber.
  3. Sport: Along with a good diet, exercising daily is another basic activity to increase HDL levels. More than maintaining a low weight, it is about sport that allows you to keep body fat at bay and that it is compatible with good physical health.
  4. Lifestyle: Substances such as tobacco and alcohol not only increase bad cholesterol levels, but also lower good cholesterol levels. It is best to eliminate these habits, or at least reduce their consumption.
  5. Medication: It is very common to resort to cholesterol-lowering drugs, but some daily medications, such as steroids, contraceptives and benzodiazepines, lower the levels of the good cholesterol. There are others, such as statins, that raise HDL while lowering LDL.
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According to a recent report by the Spanish Medicines Agency, when hypercholesterolemia reaches worrying levels, the best way to treat it is through a combination of a healthy lifestyle and pharmacological treatment.

Foods to increase good cholesterol and control LDL

Experts recommend that, in addition to consuming foods that reduce bad cholesterol, it is also convenient to prioritize those that increase HDL levelsThese are some examples:

  • fatty-blue fish, It is among the everyday foods that help reduce bad cholesterol. The omega-3 from salmon, tuna, mackerel, etc., contains polyunsaturated fats that reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream, which translates into an increase in good cholesterol.
  • The fruit boosts HDL productionbut the tropical fruit ‘noni’, in addition to providing benefits such as cancer prevention or diabetes control, reduces blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • The nuts: cashews, walnuts, almonds and other dried fruits are excellent heart carers as they contain minerals such as potassium and low sodium content. Source of healthy fats, they help the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins.

“We are what we eat”, and it is that a good nutrition it is the key to preventing pathologies such as cholesterol, which at high levels could even trigger heart disease.

This article was originally published on Business Insider ES.

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