HDL –High or Happy Cholesterol, LDL – Low or Sad cholesterol
Cholesterol is a substance produced in all animals and humans and helps in the production of cell membrane and hormones as well as in the digestion of some foods. Cholesterol is produced in the body but about 15-20% is brought in to the body from the diet. Cholesterol attaches itself to a protein in the blood to travel to the cells. This combination is known as lipoprotein. Of the many lipoproteins two are most important, LDL and HDL.
In spite of so much health awareness most of us are still ignorant about cholesterol. The biggest confusion is about the terms good and bad cholesterol. The simple way to remember this could be to say HDL- high density lipoprotein, the good cholesterol, so lets call it Happy cholesterol. It is very important for the body as this cholesterol does the good work of carrying cholesterol away from the heart. The LDL is the low density lipo protein, which can be called Low or Sad because it does the bad work of carrying cholesterol towards the heart.
If we want to keep healthy we need to make sure that the values of total cholesterol in the blood is less than 200mg/dl. Also we need to see that the value of LDL, the sad or bad cholesterol is below 100mg/dl. On the other hand we must ensure that the HDL or good, happy cholesterol, is above 40mg/dl.
Usually cholesterol problems or heart disease is a genetic disorder but it can also be acquired by just overeating food rich in fat like deep fried foods, a lot of ghee and Indian sweets, as well as rich bakery items and of course cheese, paneer, ice cream and non-vegetarian food. Obesity leads to heart disease and lack of physical exercise and sedentary jobs with long working hours and high stress definitely leads to bad and sad cholesterol values going up.
To tackle this in a positive way I would advice all men and women from age 25 upwards to do a blood test and determine what their happy cholesterol value is. The range is usually 35-45mg/dl. We will try to raise this by three commitments.
Be more active through out the day by getting up and fetching your own glass of water or anything you need, use the stairs often and try to walk while you talk on your phone.
Take out 25-30minutes to do a brisk walk all 7 days (during this walk it is best not to talk, not even on a phone).
Eat more fiber by eating raw veggies as salad with both lunch and dinner. Eat 2 fresh fruits daily (no juices) and eat whole cereals at dinner in the form of atta (whole wheat flour) rotis or whole wheat bread for dinner.
One can take drugs to reduce the total cholesterol and lower the LDL levels in the blood but there is no short cut and no easy way out to build the good HDL. One simply has to work hard but the good news is that if you are very regular with your exercise and fiber intake we have seen values change from 45mg/dl to 55mg/dl.
Please note that those with a family history of heart disease can detect if they are carrying the heart disease genes when they do a blood test and find that the HDL value is only in the 30-40 range. They can then take precautions and start being careful with their diet and regular with their exercise and prevent the development of the disease.