Saturday, January 21, 2012

How Can Cholesterol Act In Your Favor? by Andy Guides Jr

Though most articles discuss the dark side of cholesterol, it is actually essential to good health. Among other things, it helps build cell membranes and assists with their functions, making them more efficient. It also plays a role in producing vitamins and manufacturing hormones.

Cholesterol helps with the digestion of fats or lipids. Since it doesn't dissolve in the blood by itself, it has to be carried around by transporters called lipoproteins. When these lipoproteins are high-density (HDL), they move away from arteries and toward the liver where substances are processed so they can leave the body. HDL also may help dissolve plaques, or deposits of fats, attached to artery walls. This helps reduce arterial disease and protect the body from heart attacks. More and more studies are showing how HDL contributes to good health.

The body makes its own cholesterol. In many cases, the body makes as much as it needs. However, animal products like meat, cheese and milk can also contain this substance. The body can get rid of some of the excess but not extreme amounts. Trying to eat plant products like fruits and vegetables is best. Adding healthy animal products like lean meats, non-fat dairy products, and foods low in saturated fats is also fine. Experimenting with alternative sources of protein like beans is even better.

A moderate amount of alcohol can also help raise the ratio of HDL. A drink or two each day may help. However, it isn't advisable to add alcohol to the diet just to increase HDL.

Physical activity can help make the heart strong. When the heart is fit, physical exercise is easier. It is a beneficial cycle that may also increase HDL. It can also lower blood pressure, and guard against obesity. Whether a person is going for a walk or climbing a mountain, the body thrives on exercise.

Exercise and conscious diet choices are sometimes not enough. A person's family history may influence the amount and type of cholesterol. If genes are limiting the ability to control it, a doctor may be able to prescribe medication that will help. In the future, there may be even more choices, possibly even drugs to help increase high-density lipoproteins, the good cholesterol.

The key to having cholesterol work for the body rather than against it is choosing an active lifestyle and consuming a diet with little or no saturated fat or trans fat.