Types, Dangers and a Natural Solution that is Proven to Help
By Dr. Kevin Passero
Unhealthy cholesterol levels affect nearly 100 million Americans and are connected to the risk of developing serious heart problems.* There are three types of cholesterol:
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
When you have your cholesterol checked, each of these is measured and make up what is called your ‘lipid panel’.
Since heart problems are the number one cause of death worldwide, it’s important to understand the role cholesterol plays and how to interpret your lab values.*
While each number individually can be a critical indicator of cardiovascular risk, it may be just as important to consider the ratios between these measures. For example, research has shown that the ratio between HDL and triglycerides is a much better predictor of serious cardiovascular risk than simply looking at each number on its own.*
Today I’m going to share a little about each type of cholesterol and the role they play in your body and heart health risk. I’ll also discuss ways to help manage cholesterol levels, including adding high quality supplements to your daily health routine.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy molecule your body uses to create healthy cell membranes and supports the function of your cells. You need cholesterol to synthesize vitamin D, cortisol and sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen.*
Cholesterol is an important component of bile salts produced in the gall bladder which play an essential role in the breakdown and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K.*
The majority of cholesterol in your body is produced by the liver. A much smaller amount, roughly 20%, comes from your diet. Foods that have more fat tend to have higher levels of cholesterol in them including:*
- Egg yolks
- Animal meats
- Dairy products
- Fried foods and foods high in oil
Types of Cholesterol
You have different types of cholesterol in your body that do slightly different things and this is why when you have a blood test, you often see several lab values making up your lipid profile.
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
HDL is often called the ‘good’ cholesterol because it provides several benefits to the body, the main one being that it helps remove cholesterol from your blood vessels and transports it to the liver to be excreted from the body.*
The amazing process is called reverse cholesterol transport and is just like it sounds – HDL helps move excess cholesterol from throughout your body and takes it back to the liver. Once back in the liver, it can be excreted via your stools.*
HDL also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. These benefits protect the body from oxidative stress and damage caused by other types of cholesterol. There are even antithrombic benefits of HDL, which means it helps protect against blood clots from forming.*
When measuring HDL levels, if someone has lower than normal values (rather than higher) – this is considered a heart health risk.*
Extensive research on HDL in recent years has demonstrated that it is not just the number that matters. Yes, higher HDL levels are considered protective because you have more cholesterol being removed from blood vessels and being excreted in the liver, but even more important is HDL functionality.
The efficiency of your HDL molecules to carry out reverse cholesterol transport is showing to be more important than the sheer number of them. Emerging blood tests are now able to give us insight into not just HDL number, but more importantly, HDL functionality.*
Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
Like all cholesterol, LDL is made in the liver and plays a role in cellular protection and repair. While there are some benefits of LDL, it is often referred to as the ‘bad’ cholesterol.
This is because LDL is the cholesterol molecule responsible for transporting cholesterol out of the liver to be deposited into the cells and blood vessels. For those that have imbalanced levels of cholesterol in the blood, LDL plays a major role in building the arterial plaques that contribute to serious cardiovascular problems.*
This plaque formation can cause arteries to become stiff and narrow and subsequently slows down or completely blocks blood flow to critical organs like the heart and brain.*
Triglycerides are another type of lipid (fat) found in your body and often measured in a standard lipid profile. Your body turns any unused calories from your diet into triglycerides and stores them in fat cells for later use.* If you are regularly consuming more calories from your diet than calories you burn, your body will start to store these excess calories as triglycerides. It is the way for the body to take excess sugar and turn it into a fat which can be stored and accessed later for energy if needed.
High carbohydrate foods tend to drive up triglyceride levels and people with blood sugar problems tend to have elevated triglyceride levels. Excessive amounts of triglycerides can increase your risk of serious heart issues.*
Triglyceride level should be monitored and kept in optimal ranges to reduce heart disease and stroke risk.
Stored triglycerides are helpful when you need energy in between meals or during an intense workout, but triglycerides can become elevated if HDL levels are low or if your diet has an excess of saturated fats.
Consequences of Unhealthy Cholesterol Levels
If cholesterol levels are outside the healthy range – either two much “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides or not enough “good” cholesterol – your risk for serious heart consequences increases. The waxy molecules can start sticking to the walls of your arteries which are the blood vessels that carry oxygen around your body.*
One way these plaques are dangerous is they cause the artery to narrow – making it more difficult for blood to flow through it. Over time, it can become so narrowed it can even become fully blocked.*
Another way plaques cause issues is if a plaque breaks off or ruptures, causing a blockage to form, resulting in a sudden a serious heart problem.*
What Should My Cholesterol Levels Be?
Now that you know about the different types of cholesterol, you may be wondering what is considered a healthy cholesterol value?
You should try and keep your HDL above 40 mg/dL if you are a man and over 50 mg/dL if you are a woman. LDL levels should be lower than 100 mg/dL for both men and women that do not have a history of cardiovascular problems. If you have already been diagnosed with cardiovascular issues or have had a serious cardiovascular event, your LDL target should be less than 70 mg/dL. As far as triglycerides, it’s recommended to keep this measure lower than 150 mg/dL.*
Cholesterol is measured with a simple fasting blood test, and it depends on your age and risk factors as to how frequently you should have them checked. Most people over the age of 45 should have it checked every year.*
Managing Your Cholesterol
Lifestyle habits can greatly impact cholesterol levels. Adjusting your diet can help by doing things like:*
- Minimizing saturated and trans fat
- Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables
- Choosing fish over beef or pork
- Cutting back on processed foods and added sugar
- Increasing fiber consumption
- Reducing your intake of all animal products
Increasing physical activity, including aerobic exercises like walking, running, biking and swimming play an important role in achieving healthy cholesterol levels.*
Citrus Bergamot and Cholesterol
Sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough to manage cholesterol and the widely prescribed cholesterol medications can have unwanted side effects such as muscle aches and fatigue.
So, if possible I prefer natural remedies as the first course of action to bring cholesterol levels back into the healthy range. Citrus bergamot is an Italian fruit that for many people can do just that.
Numerous studies have found citrus bergamot to dramatically reduce total cholesterol levels without unwanted side effects.*
And clinical studies have shown that taking 1,000 mg of Bergamonte®, a patented citrus bergamot extract has produced much better results than generic citrus bergamot or the widely available 500 mg dose including a remarkable 40% improvement in HDL cholesterol levels. I have also found that a 1,000 mg dose of Bergamonte® works best for the patients in my clinic as well.
To help make this proven natural cholesterol enhancer easily available for my patients, and for you, I formulated Durable HEART™ featuring 1,000 mg of Bergamonte® citrus bergamot.
Balance your cholesterol with Durable HEART.