The Good Cholesterol and Bad Cholesterol
Not all cholesterol contributes to the hardening of your arteries. Up to this point, I have been discussing only the LDL cholesterol shuttle bus. The liver also makes an HDL cholesterol shuttle bus, which it also releases to the bloodstream. This HDL cholesterol shuttle bus actually vacuums up deposits of LDL cholesterol from your artery walls and carries it back to your liver. There it can be used for other purposes, such as producing bile acids. (Of course, if you are still eating foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol, your liver will have too much cholesterol already and will just send it back out to your arteries again.)
Studies have shown that people with high levels of HDL cholesterol (the good guys) and low levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad guys) are much less likely to develop heart attacks or advanced stages of atherosclerosis. Some recent studies have been confirmed that raising your levels of HDL cholesterol can actually reverse the hardening of your arteries that has already occurred.
Certainly, the ratio of your LDL to HDL cholesterol levels can tell your doctor a lot about your present chances of developing cardiovascular disease. So next time you are getting some blood work done, ask to see where you stand. But even if your LDL or HDL ratio is low, remember that it is easier to cut back on saturated fat and cholesterol now than to wait until the damage is already done.
Play It Smart, Play It Safe
The only real way to play it safe when it comes to eating saturated fat and LDL cholesterol is to keep your consumption within the boundaries set by my nutritional system. Along with an exercise program, this will help keep your saturated fat and LDL cholesterol levels down, while you try to increase your level of HDL cholesterol through aerobic exercise, eating more fish, and using olive oil instead of other types of fat.
Use the following foods to help lower your intake of saturated fat and your blood levels of LDL cholesterol:
Chicken, turkey and Cornish hens
Cheese that is under 3% milk fat (M.F.)
Other low-fat dairy products (i. E. non fat yogurt and sour cream)
Egg whites (no yolk)
Nutrition recommendations. The report of the scientific review committee, 1990. Minister of National Health and Welfare Canada. Pp. 43, 45.
Renaud S. et al. Dietary lipids and their relation to ischaemic heart disease: From Epidemiology to prevention. Journal of Internal Medicine. 1989, 225:39-46.
Behme M. Symposium on diet, nutrition and health. Nutrition Today, 1977; 32:23-29.