Home » UAW » Health » Cholesterol

Category Archives: Cholesterol

Sugar and Cholesterol: A very Surprising Link

Often, when one thinks about cholesterol, what comes to mind is fat and sinfully delicious burgers coupled with fries from the popular fast food chains. Well, that’s a known fact. What most people do not know is that it is not just fat and fatty foods that affect the cholesterol levels. It could be a number of factors, including stress, lack of exercise, and sugars!

Image credit: www.hi-life-hawassa.com

Did you know that excessively eating foods rich in sugar can actually have a direct effect on your blood cholesterol levels? A high-sugar diet is not just linked to diabetes but has been proven to cause low levels of good cholesterol or high density lipoprotein (HDL). What does that mean? Because cholesterol levels are inversely proportional to each other, low levels of HDL mean high levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called “bad cholesterol”, and triglycerides.

Sources of Sugar

Not all sugars are bad. In fact, the body actually needs sugar to survive. Still, like every other thing on Earth, there is a limit to what the body actually needs. Simple sugars are highly discouraged because they break down too easily. That’s the reason why it is best to avoid processed foods and drinks.

Image credit: health.howstuffworks.com

In the past, people had counted on fruits, real fruits to give the juice and food. These days, it is easy to simply pick a carton of juice off the grocery store shelf. How sure are you that those are healthy? Well, you simply have to learn to read the label. After all, food manufacturers are required to place all the ingredients they use on those tiny labels.

You might think that “evaporated cane juice” is innocent but that only translates to “sugar”! Check the label closely and look for items that end with “-ose” because those mean sugar. Yes! “Dextrose”, “fructose”, and “sucrose” are various types of sugar. Go through the items in the supermarket and you’ll surely find most of the processed food stuff containing these sugars. It can get confusing to distinguish which ones to buy. A great piece of advice would be to avoid them entirely, if possible. Stick to fresh fruits and vegetables as much as you can.

Just because they don’t appear in the labels, it doesn’t mean that fruits and vegetables don’t have sugar. On the contrary, sugar content makes these food items tasty. Still, the sugar levels are within a good range and aren’t broken down as fast as the simple sugars offered in the sugary processed foods, soft drinks, and high-energy drinks.

Knowing Your Limits

If sugar is needed by the body, how is too much? Based on extensive studies done by the American Heart Association (AHA), most men need around 150 calories a day while most women need around 100 calories a day. If that is translated to sugar, then men need 9 teaspoons while women need only 6.

Image credit: www.sugarstacks.com

Now, check your diet. Any food with carbohydrates (including bread and rice) contains sugar. How many 12-ounce cans of regular soda do you drink daily? Each can has 8–10 teaspoons of sugar. Even 1 can of soda is more than enough to meet the daily limit. But you also eat other foods! Even without doing complex Math, you’ll see that indulging in soft drinks and sugary drinks pushes you well over what you need for the day.

It might be good to start counting your calories now – not just for avoiding obesity but also to keep your cholesterol levels in check.

Facts and Myths on Cholesterol

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is found in all of the cells of the body. Our body needs some cholesterol to function and makes all the cholesterol it needs to keep you healthy. Cholesterol is also present in some of the foods we eat. It is used to make Vitamin D, hormones, and substances that help food digestion.

What is HDL and LDL Cholesterol?

Our blood is a water-based, but cholesterol is an oily substance. As a result, the two do not mix well. So, for cholesterol to travel in the bloodstream, it is carried in packets called lipoproteins. These packets are made of fat (lipo) inside. and proteins on the outer layer. Two kinds of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout our body, High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) and Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL).

o LDL Cholesterol (the “Bad” Cholesterol)

High levels of LDL Cholesterol leads to an accumulation of cholesterol in our arteries, this is “bad” as it clogs them, giving a greater chance of heart disease.

o HDL Cholesterol (the “Good” Cholesterol)

This carries cholesterol from other parts of our body back to our liver. The liver then removes the cholesterol from our body. The higher your HDL cholesterol level, the lower your chances of getting heart disease.

Cholesterol Myths and Facts

1 . The only effective way to lower cholesterol is with drugs.

Fact: These drugs do not improve heart mortality or total mortality as the effect is only to lower cholesterol. In fact these drugs may be dangerous to our health and can shorten your life.

2 . High blood cholesterol causes atherosclerosis

Fact: Many studies have shown that people with high blood cholesterol become just as atherosclerotic as people whose cholesterol is low.

3. Our body produces three to four times more cholesterol than we eat.

Fact: The production of cholesterol increases when you eat little cholesterol and decreases when you eat much. This explains why the “prudent” diet cannot lower cholesterol more than on average by a few per cent.

4. The Statins prevent heart disease by lowering Cholesterol.

Fact: These drugs do help prevent cardio-vascular disease, but this is due to other mechanisms than cholesterol-lowering. Unfortunately, they also stimulate cancer in rodents, disturb the functions of the muscles, the brain and the heart. Additionally, pregnant women taking Statins may give birth to children with malformations.

5. Cholesterol is a deadly poison.

Fact: Cholesterol is a substance vital to the cells of all mammals. All cholesterol is not bad, but mental stress, physical activity and change of body weight may influence the level of blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is not dangerous by itself, but may reflect an unhealthy condition, or it may be totally innocent.