The bad cholesterol you don’t know about



burger_mealYou think you know everything there is to know about cholesterol, the good, the bad, and the ugly? Well think again. There is another one that you might not know about and it might just be the baddest of them all.

Let’s backtrack a bit about cholesterol numbers

  • There’s the low density lipoprotein cholesterol or LDL cholesterol, aka the bad cholesterol.
  • Then there’s the high density lipoprotein cholesterol of the HDL cholesterol, aka the good cholesterol.
  • Then there’s your total cholesterol which is basically an estimate of the all the cholesterol, good or bad, in your blood plus triglycerides.

The trick to cardiovascular health is to keep the bad and the total cholesterol low but keep the good one high.

But now there’s this report about the little known but high dangerous cholesterol – the so-called oxycholesterol which Chinese researchers introduced at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

According to lead researcher Dr. Zhen-Yu Chen of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “Total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), and the heart-healthy high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) are still important health issues. But the public should recognize that oxycholesterol is also important and cannot be ignored. Our work demonstrated that oxycholesterol boosts total cholesterol levels and promotes atherosclerosis [“hardening of the arteries”] more than non-oxidized cholesterol.”

Oxycholesterol is definitely oxidized cholesterol. It is found in fried and processed foods such as fried chicken, steaks, and grilled burgers. Oxidation occurs when fat-containing food stuffs are heated. However, according to the researchers, food manufacturer intentionally add oxidized oils such as trans-fatty acids and partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils to improve texture, taste and stability of the foodstuffs.

The researchers have tested oxycholesterol in hamsters and found that oxycholesterol consumption led to greater cholesterol deposition on the arterial lining as well as formation of larger atherosclerotic plaques. Oxycholesterol had undesirable effects on “artery function.” [It] reduced the elasticity of arteries, impairing their ability to expand and carry more blood.

The bad news is that it is not clear whether current anti-cholesterol medications are effective against oxycholesterol. The good news is that eating healthy food rich in antioxidants (fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and nuts) can counteract the effects of oxycholesterol since antioxidants can block the oxidation process that leads to the formation of oxycholesterol.

So which way do you go?

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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Comments

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