From Dr. Mercola:
Cholesterol is a wax-like fatty substance found in almost every cell of your body. You need cholesterol to make hormones and vitamin D, digest your foods, protect your nerves and for the production of cell membranes.
Although it has been vilified, it is essential to your health. Your liver manufactures most of the cholesterol you require from the nutrients in your food.
Levels of cholesterol are not higher in fatty meats or lower in lean meats. Like your body cells, the cells of all mammals contain cholesterol. Fat cells contain as much cholesterol as other cells in the meat. All meat averages about 25 milligrams of cholesterol per 1 ounce, including beef, pork and poultry.1
Dietary (preformed cholesterol) absorption rates also vary between 20 and 60 percent in individuals.2 This may explain why eating cholesterol affects cholesterol levels differently in different people.
Cholesterol Ratios Are More Important Than Single Numbers
You may be following your cholesterol numbers in terms of the “good” cholesterol (HDL) or the “bad” cholesterol (LDL). But the best way to interpret your cholesterol numbers is to understand your cholesterol ratio.
To say that all low-density lipoprotein (LDL) molecules are bad is an oversimplification of our understanding of cholesterol.
Through the use of new technology to test the size of lipoprotein particles, scientists have identified which sizes are more closely related to heart disease. The smaller sized LDL molecules hold the highest risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Small, dense LDL particles can squeeze between the cells of your arterial lining, the so-called “gap junction” of the endothelium, where they can get stuck and potentially oxidize, turn rancid and cause inflammation and plaque formation. They also have a relationship to other metabolic abnormalities.3
Large epidemiological studies have found people with predominantly small LDL particles are at increased risk for CVD.4,5 Even more interesting is the research demonstrating eating saturated fats increases the size of your small LDL molecules to the larger size and reduces your overall risk of CVD.6,7
The importance of measuring LDL cholesterol through common blood testing has now decreased in value, to the point the American Heart Association (AHA) no longer recommends using LDL cholesterol as a guide in treating the risk for CVD or prescribing statin drugs.8
Instead, a better predictor is the ratio between your high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and total cholesterol. HDL is an important factor in the fight against heart disease. Your ratio between HDL and total cholesterol (or HDL divided by your total cholesterol, multiplied by 100) should ideally be above 24 percent.
Triglycerides are another type of cholesterol formed in your body with excess blood sugar from the metabolism of carbohydrates. They are a significant risk factor in the development of heart disease. Your triglyceride to HDL ratio (triglycerides divided by HDL, multiplied by 100) should ideally be below 2 percent.
Cholesterol Not a Trigger for Heart Disease
Total Video length: 05:40
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