I’m excited at the addition of reader questions to my blog posts and newsletters!
Are you confused by all those cholesterol numbers and what they actually mean? What is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol? In today’s post I give you the easy way to learn the difference and what you can do to lower your cholesterol numbers.
“Can you suggest foods that have a positive impact on triglycerides and cholesterol? Despite being an active cyclist, my husband is struggling with these numbers.Let’s first take a look at exactly what cholesterol is. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that circulates in your blood. Your body uses it to create cells, hormones, and Vitamin D and your liver creates all the cholesterol you need from fats in your diet. So you see that cholesterol is a necessity and one that I think gets too much of a bad rap sometimes. Similar to sugar (and lots of other comparisons), it’s the excess we tend to consume that can be damaging.”
Let’s first take a look at exactly what cholesterol is.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that circulates in your blood. Your body uses it to create cells, hormones, and Vitamin D and your liver creates all the cholesterol you need from fats in your diet. So you see that cholesterol is a necessity and one that I think gets too much of a bad rap sometimes. Similar to sugar (and lots of other comparisons), it’s the excess we tend to consume that can be damaging.
In addition, let’s also take a look at the two different types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL or as we are more familiar with, “good cholesterol and bad cholesterol”. Right?
LDL = bad cholesterol
HDL= good cholesterol
Here’s the deal with those two. HDLs are actually important and those numbers need to be higher because they help transport the bad cholesterol or LDLs out of the body.
While it may be elementary (that’s how I learn!), I like to think about the HDLs as the school buses that help transport the LDLs out of the body. When we don’t have enough school buses (HDLs), then the LDLs will all start to back up at the bus stop waiting on the next bus—but the problem is–there’s not enough buses to transport them all!! Get it!!??
Now on to triglycerides. This is a different type of fat found in the body and while they do have some necessary functions, too much of a good thing can again cause problems. It’s these high numbers of triglycerides that can increase our risk of heart disease and stroke.
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So, back to Kathy’s question.
1. The key is to work on increasing the levels of HDL (the good) in order to lower the LDL (the bad). So with that, increase the amount of foods you eat that contain this healthy form of fat such as: avocados, olives and olive oil, walnuts and almonds, coconuts and coconut oil, salmon and other fatty fish containing Omega 6 oil, flax seeds and chia seeds.
2. Avoid fatty and sugary foods that raise both your LDLs and triglycerides such as saturated fats like bacon grease, pork, dairy, butter and margarine, the skin off of chicken, vegetable oil and empty calorie foods like donuts, sweets and other junk food.
3. Exercise. Specifically with lowering triglycerides, you need high intensity, fat burning cardio to literally burn away that fat. Now Kathy mentioned that her husband is an avid bike rider, but mostly likely his body (and that fat) has adapted to the bike riding and it may (or may not) increase his heart rate enough to cause a good calorie deficit and fat burn. So Kathy have your husband add some good ole fashion cardio workouts to his routine–high intensity, quick bursts and heart racing.
I hope this helps!