Confused about Cholesterol

Heart | September 4, 2019 | Author: Naturopath

cholesterol, cardiovascular

Confused about Cholesterol

Cholesterol is an organic molecule, a type of lipid, a sterol (a fat-like substance) produced by the body (75% by the liver) an obtained from the diet.

Why do we need Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is an essential component of:

  • Cell membranes
  • Brain and Nerve cells
  • Bile  (needed for absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins)

Cholesterol is needed to make:

  • Vitamin D 
  • Hormones (such as oestrogen, testosterone, and cortisol)

The body can produce all the cholesterol that it needs, but it also obtains cholesterol from food.

Cholesterols, triglycerides and fats need to be transported through blood in a carrier, as blood is mainly water, so they are packaged into lipoproteins. The main types being chylomicrons, very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL’s) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL’s) .

Lipoproteins are hydrophobic (water repellent) spherical structures that have surface proteins. These proteins are cofactors and ligands for lipid-processing enzymes (lipid metabolism). They are mostly insoluble in the blood and have different purposes and ways they are excreted.

  • LDS can accumulate in arteries
  • HDL collect low-density lipoprotein from the arteries and delivers back to the liver for removal

Triglycerides are located in fat cells. They are produced in the liver and intestine from fatty acids made by the body and obtained from food. Triglycerides can be used to provide energy for metabolic processes.  Food is converted to triglycerides for energy and is stored in fat cells for release when energy from food is in low supply. High triglyceride levels may be due to diabetes, hypothyroidism, kidney disease or liver disease. Dietary causes of high triglyceride levels may include alcohol, and eating foods containing cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans-fats.

What can go wrong?

Why do we need Cholesterol?Too much low-density cholesterol can accumulate in the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a condition where deposits of fatty material (atheromas or plaques), develop in in the walls of medium and large size arteries, which can lead to reduced blood and oxygen flow.

This can also cause peripheral vascular disease where circulation to the lower extremities is restricted (trunk, legs and arms).

Blocked arteries can lead to stroke, heart attack and even death.

Other conditions associated with atherosclerosis include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, diabetes, smoking and sedentary lifestyle.

Dyslipidaemia (Hyperlipidaemia)

This term is used to describe an elevation of triglycerides (TG’s) in the blood, an elevation of cholesterol in the blood, or both or low HDL cholesterol. Lipid levels may change or be abnormal due to changes associated with aging, inherited, certain drugs, or lifestyle factors such as consuming a diet high in saturated fat, being physically inactive, or being overweight. Problems can arise from 

  • Too much LDL 
  • Too little HDL 
  • Too many triglycerides 

Balancing the HDL/LDL ratio

Citrus flavonoids have not only been shown to reduce hyperlipidaemia and lipid and inflammation, they also improve endothelial function, arterial blood pressure, and lipid metabolism offering a therapeutic role against atherosclerosis and CVD.

Reducing LDL’s

HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors work by inhibiting the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver by the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase. Most of the cholesterol in circulation is synthesized in the smooth endothelium endoplasmic reticulum within cells of the liver through a series of chemical reactions that at one point are catalysed by HMG CoA reductase. Some medication, such as statin drugs (atorvastatin, lovastatin, and Simvastatin) work by besides blocking the HMG CoA reductase enzyme.

Beta-glucan. These are biologically active polysaccharides from natural sources (plant fibres) proven to be medical value as anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, anti-allergic, anti-osteoporotic, anti-tumour and immunomodulating activity.

β-Glucans have proven features in lowering blood total cholesterol, improving blood lipid profiles as well as protecting lipids from peroxidation, and blood pressure lowing effects.

Beta -glucan from oats is the best source to look for.
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Plant sterols. Phytosterols are bioactive compounds from plant sources with a similar chemical structure as cholesterol (from animal sources). Clinical studies indicate an intake of 2g/day is associated with a significant reduction of in the levels of LDL cholesterol mainly through reduced intestinal absorption of cholesterol. Food sources include vegetable oils – corn, sunflower, soybean and olive; almonds, wheatgerm, wheat bran, passionfruit and cauliflower. Or can be supplemented.

Increasing HDS’s

Policosanol is the generic term for a mixture of long chain alcohols extracted from plant waxes. Policosanol was originally derived from sugar cane but the chemicals can also be isolated from beeswax, cereal grains, grasses, leaves, fruits, nuts and seeds of many foods. It has been shown to increase the functionality of HDL cholesterol, improve the composition of apolipoproteins and lipids.

Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring carotenoid pigment naturally synthesized by a number of bacteria, microalgae, and yeasts. Astaxanthin supports the cardiovascular system - heart, artery and blood capillary health and function. It helps to maintain healthy blood fats and healthy cholesterol levels. It is a powerful antioxidant that neutralises free radicals, helping protect against oxidative stress.

Removing triglycerides

Reducing LDL’sCorn starch. Alpha-cyclodextrin is a soluble dietary fibre which forms a hydrophobic central cavity that binds lipids and alter plasma lipid levels.

Soluble fibre can bind cholesterol in the intestine and remove it from the body. Soluble fibre is available as slippery elm, psyllium husks, inulin and beta glucan. 
Click Here for further reading

Other nutraceuticals which can support healthy cholesterol

Fish oil. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), obtained from omega-3 fatty acid, lowers plasma triglycerides, reduces levels of inflammatory mediators and may decrease plaque vulnerability and prevent plaque progression.

Co enzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant for cardiovascular system. Supplementing with CoQ10 significantly improved some of the parameters of lipid profile including total cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol levels in patients with coronary artery disease.

Probiotics

Gut microbiota may be a major determinant of dyslipidaemia. Modulation of gut bacteria may offer a supportive effect for healthy cholesterol levels. Consuming probiotic Lactobacillus could reduce total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol significantly.

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
  • Lactobacillus plantarum.
  • L. reuteri

Support digestive health with fibres, inulin and psyllium.

​A Heath conscious lifestyle is important!A Heath conscious lifestyle is important!

Include nutrient-dense foods and a variety of colourful vegetables and fruit in the diet.

Your cholesterol profile can be changed for the better by a change in diet and increase in exercise. 

The Bottom line

Too much cholesterol can lead to block arteries – atherosclerosis

This may cause – heart attack, stroke and poor circulation in legs (peripheral artery disease).

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References

https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-au/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/cholesterol-disorders/overview-of-cholesterol-and-lipid-disorders?query=cholesterol

https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/hmg-coa-reductase-inhibitor

Beneficial Effects of Citrus Flavonoids on Cardiovascular and Metabolic Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6431442/

Phytosterols in the Treatment of Hypercholesterolemia and Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5729784/

Randomized double blind clinical trial on the effect of oral α-cyclodextrin on serum lipids https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4941029/

Consumption of Cuban Policosanol Improves Blood Pressure and Lipid Profile via Enhancement of HDL Functionality in Healthy Women Subjects: Randomized, Double-Blinded, and Placebo-Controlled Study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29854085

https://www.pulsus.com/scholarly-articles/preventive-effects-of-statin-therapy-in-coronary-artery-diseases-current-controversy.pdf

Potential Anti-Atherosclerotic Properties of Astaxanthin https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26861359

Protective effects of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG against dyslipidemia in high-fat diet-induced obese mice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27018382

Effect of probiotic Lactobacillus on lipid profile: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28594860

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6176512/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol/art-20045192

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