Size Matters!

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Size does matter in the world of Cholesterol

Before I get started, I need to share a concept that has great baring in this article. Get to know and love this word- Bio-individuality. It means simply, there is no one way of eating that fits everyone. We all are unique, and our bodies respond to foods differently. Think the Keto diet, some folks thrive on it, others feel awful. Gluten, some folks can tolerate it others can’t and become ill.  Keep this word in mind as you continue to read this article.

There’s a paradigm shift occurring in the world of Cholesterol. When it comes to cholesterol size matters.

Like all sciences and fields of research, we’re taught one thing then a few years or decades later new ideas, theories or research come to light that changes what was thought to be the “gold” standard.

Here are a few examples of what I mean:

*In the 80’s we were all told all fats were bad, now, we’ve learned not all fats are created equal.

*Blood pressure numbers, anything UNDER 120/80 was normal, now it’s considered “high-normal”

*Don’t even get me started on coffee! One cup is good, then we see in the news it’s bad, now it’s back to being good. Ugh!

The cool thing about all these changes is that we the public are getting up to the minute updates on subjects that affect our bodies. Giving us a unique opportunity to make “course corrections” in our diet and lifestyles throughout our lives. Giving us the chance to live a longer more healthful life.

 

The shift happening in the world of Cholesterol is HUGE, and one I’ll admit that I’m struggling to get my head around.

Let’s look at the old way of thinking.

In the past when you saw your doctor and had your blood work done, he/she would focus on the total Cholesterol count = the LDL + HDL = Total Cholesterol count, maybe a conversation about the breakdown of both LDL/HDL levels.  Based on this number they would then talk to about your diet or suggest trying a drug. They were using the following numbers:

Note this is TOTAL Cholesterol: Less than 200 was thought to be ideal, now 161-199 is the “new normal”.  200-239 considered “borderline high”.

Let me make something very clear, every cell, and I mean EVERY cell in our bodies have and NEED cholesterol!! Our brains run on the stuff!

Interestingly, our body generates all the cholesterol it needs, so we don’t actually need any from our diet. That said, unless you’re a vegan, you’re most likely consuming cholesterol; animals and their byproducts (meat, seafood, eggs, cheese, etc.) all contain varying levels of cholesterol. However, our body tightly regulates the amount of cholesterol it produces against the amount we consume. If we get a lot from our diet, our body compensates by producing less internally (and vice versa). For this reason, dietary cholesterol has a minimal impact on plasma cholesterol.

Remember that word bio-individuality, some folks like myself are more genetically sensitive to dietary cholesterol and may experience a rise in cholesterol with a high intake of dietary cholesterol.

Where does size fit in, you’re asking? Right here!

Researchers now believe that a key factor is the size and density of LDL particles, which range from very small, densely concentrated particles to large “fluffy” ones. Studies have linked smaller, dense LDL particles to a higher risk of heart disease compared to larger particles. Small, dense LDL is being seen to go along with a host of related problems that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease—low HDL, high triglycerides (fats in the blood), high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and obesity. In summary, we want Fat & Fluffy

The small particles are dangerous because they are better able to get into artery walls where dangerous plaque forms, thus promoting atherosclerosis (heart disease). They are also more easily oxidized (open to damage by chemicals or inflammation), and oxidized LDL plays an important role in atherosclerosis. In addition, they are less easily cleared from the bloodstream.

What to do? Easy 😉 Make dietary changes

The key dietary change for improving LDL size is to cut down on refined carbohydrate = sugary or starchy foods (Stay away from processed foods). You don’t have to go on a very-low-carb diet, just moderate your carb intake and choose healthy, high-fiber carbs = Whole foods, fresh fruits, and veggies.

This is good advice for many reasons. Surprisingly, saturated fat tends to raise levels of large LDL particles, the less harmful kind, suggesting that saturated fat may not be as bad as was once thought. (Remember bio-individuality!!) Another is the heart benefit of moderate alcohol consumption may come from its ability to raise levels of both large LDL and large HDL. Statin drugs lower LDL levels but have a relatively small effect on LDL size. In contrast, high-dose niacin and some other cholesterol-lowering drugs can substantially improve LDL size.

Please keep in mind, I kept this in “general” terms vs getting technical and diving into the intricacies and breakdowns of LDL/HDL

If you are interested in learning more about this or other health-related topics schedule a Free consultation and let’s get a conversation started. 

If heart disease runs in your family I encourage you to reach out to your doctor.

 

Remember  AMAZED!

Kris

Resources:
Cholesterol Clarity-Jimmy Moore
Berklywellness.com-Cholesterol: Size Matters
Medicinenet.com-Cholesterol 2001 Guide Lines
Insidetracker.com-Does Your Total Cholesterol Number Even Matter & Does Shrimp Raise Cholesterol

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