Good and bad cholesterol
By Penelope A. Domogo, MD
CHOLESTEROL is a waxy fat-like substance and technically belongs to a class of substances called steroids. Somebody said that it would feel like soft melted candle. It is, in fact, an essential part of our body. That’s is why ALL the cholesterol we need is manufactured by our body mismo, mainly in our liver. The amazing thing is that our body only manufactures enough cholesterol that is needed– not more, not less. And also it is only our body who knows how much cholesterol is enough. Which is fine with me so I won’t have to calculate. Thank you, dear Creator.
Cholesterol is necessary in a lot of chemical processes going on in our body but I wouldn’t like to confuse you with the details of these processes. (And you can always go to the internet if you want more information.) Suffice it to say that cholesterol is needed for our body to function normally. We cannot live without it. But in excess, it can make us sick and can kill.
I repeat, ALL the cholesterol we need is provided by our body, meaning nobody needs to eat or drink anything containing cholesterol. So when you have your blood cholesterol checked and it is high, where do you think all that excess cholesterol came from? Not from the air and not from plants. Cholesterol is found ONLY in animal foods- eggs, meat (chicken, pork, beef, kambing, lamb, etc.), milk and other dairy products (chocolate, cheese, yogurt…), sea animals especially shrimps. One egg contains around 210 mg. cholesterol. Mind you, that is only one egg. And this 210 mg. is all in the egg yolk. The egg white does not contain cholesterol.
What about “good” and “bad” cholesterol? These are carriers that transport cholesterol to all parts of the body, because cholesterol cannot travel alone. The major cholesterol carrier is the low density lipoprotein (LDL) and this is what the medical people label as “bad” cholesterol. Imagine your artery as a tunnel with a river of blood flowing in it. Then imagine a lot of boats cruising this river (one writer likened them to submarines.) Some are loaded with oxygen (these are the hemoglobin) , others are loaded with a fatty substance called cholesterol (these are the LDL). In normal circumstances, traffic should be smooth and unimpeded. What happens if you have an excess of these “fat” boats? Naturally, there will be monstrous traffic making transport slow. What science found out is that these carriers then deposit the excess cholesterol in the tunnel walls. They must grow tired of carrying the load. These deposits, termed “plaques” will narrow the passage and thus aggravate the traffic problem. (Imagine these as like clay dumped by the roadsides and creating slow traffic.) This plaque build-up is known as atherosclerosis, a common condition among hypertensives. As more and more cholesterol are dumped in the walls, time will come that the tunnel will be totally blocked, blocking all the boats including those containing oxygen and nutrients. If this block happens in the heart arteries then one gets a heart attack. If in the brain area, the condition is termed “stroke”. These things can happen at any age – whether a baby in the womb or an octogenarian in Tambuan. So think twice before cooking and serving cholesterol to your children. Imagine their super small arteries.
In contrast, “good” cholesterol are high density lipoproteins (HDL) – carriers that remove the excess cholesterol from the blood and transport it to the liver which flushes it out from the body. Must be like loaders that clear the dumped soil from the road.
The most popular test that doctors rely on to check if you have excess is blood cholesterol level as follows:
1. Total blood cholesterol- this includes LDL, HDL, very low density lipoproeteins (VLDL) and other fats in the blood. Should be less than 200 mg/dL. The lesser the better.
2. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) – bad cholesterol- should be 100 mg/dL or less.
3. High density lipoprotein (HDL) – good cholesterol- should be more than 40 mg/dL.
Take note, though, that what is measured is the cholesterol that is cruising in the bloodstream. Those still in the transport carriers. Once they are deposited or dumped on the arterial walls, then the laboratory cannot detect them so one can have a normal cholesterol level. Don’t be surprised then when a person with normal cholesterol level has a heart attack or stroke or the other diseases that develop because of slow blood traffic. Meaning if your diet is unhealthy, don’t let a normal blood cholesterol level assure you that all is well. Sooner or later your body will say “tama na! sobra na!”. Further, a high cholesterol level does not show any symptoms at first because your body copes. But if it remains high, meaning your blood is malapot everyday for many years, then your heart and blood vessels will feel the burden.
When your cholesterol level is high, then just refrain from taking in more animal meat until you are cleansed. Easier said than done. Turmeric can facilitate the cleansing – as tea (minus the sugar) or as capsules and as condiment to your food. Later when the excess has left your body, you can eat meat or eggs but minimal. There are western medicines generally called statins that inhibit an enzyme involved in the natural production of cholesterol in the liver. In a sense, I see this as inhibiting in-house cholesterol production in favor of outside cholesterol from meat, milk & eggs. I have qualms when something interferes with a natural process.
It is a simple equation. Our body makes all the cholesterol it needs. So any other cholesterol you eat or drink from animal products will be extra. Ideally, then, our intake should be zero. Thus we can understand why vegans (no dairy no eggs, no meat) can be so healthy. Well, I can say our Creator loves us so much that He designed our bodies to handle small short term excesses. So if you really want to, occasional organic meat or other animal products will not make you sick ….as long as you also limit the occasions.***
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.” 1 Corinthians 3:19a**