What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty molecule crucial to the human body since it participates in the production of cells and hormones. It is produced by the human body but can also come from the food that we eat. In normal blood level, cholesterol is beneficial for us; however, a raise of the cholesterol blood levels increases the risk to develop a cardiovascular disease.

What is good and bad cholesterol?

Just like oil does not mix with water, cholesterol does not mix with blood and therefore needs to use transporters to circulate in the latter. We refer to these naturally available transporters in the blood when it is question of good or bad cholesterol and not to cholesterol itself. The two main cholesterol transporters are LDL and HDL.

LDL transporters carry cholesterol to the arteries, stick to their wall and therefore increase plaque formation and the risk of coronary disease. This is why LDL cholesterol is called bad cholesterol.

HDL transporters promote the elimination of cholesterol surplus; therefore they help cleaning and protecting arteries. This is why HDL cholesterol is called good cholesterol.

People with high levels of LDL cholesterol or low levels of HDL cholesterol have a higher risk of developing coronary diseases.

How to control cholesterol levels (LDL or HDL)?

• Have a balanced diet of Mediterranean type
• Do regular physical exercise
• Control your weight and your waist size
• Stop smoking
• Take your medication, if applicable

What about triglycerides?

High levels of triglycerides in the blood constitutes a risk factor to coronary diseases. Indeed, a reduction of HDL levels is often accompanied by hypertriglyceridemia (increase of triglycerides) to which other conditions are also associated, like abdominal obesity and type 2 diabetes.

How to control triglycerides levels?

1. Have a balanced diet of Mediterranean type
2. Limit alcohol and refined sugar consumption
3. Control your weight and your waist size