There is this buzz about bad and good cholesterol that every health and wellness blog seem to be fascinated about.
Don’t be caught in this buzz just yet! Well, let’s start by looking at the types of cholesterols in our bodies; there is good cholesterol HDL and bad cholesterol LDL.
HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein which is generally good for the body since it helps to remove cholesterol from the arteries and carry it to the liver for elimination. LDL, on the other hand, is known as low-density lipoprotein which is generally bad for the body especially the arteries.
In fact, too much of LDL blocks the arteries which supply blood meaning that it increases the chances of having a heart attack.
Now, for long we all thought that boosting HDL levels in addition to lowering “bad” LDL was best for a healthy heart and plaque-free arteries. It turns out that this is not entirely true.
In fact, according to a study published recently in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, HDL may not be that good after all. The study assessed 631,000 Canadians aged over 40 years, for about 5 years and found that although those people with high levels of HDL might have a risk of getting heart problems thanks to poor lifestyle.
In this study, people with low HDL were noted to have the tendency to smoke, take poor diets and exercise traits. They were also more likely to belong in the low-income bracket. People with HDL in the medium range were likely to die in the course of the study even despite the efforts of the authors to control unhealthily factors.
What’s even more interesting is that this study also found that even those individuals with the highest levels of HDL cholesterol were equally at risk of dying from heart or stroke-related causes.
The reasons behind this are unknown though past research has linked this observation to alcohol. It must be noted that the risk remained even after the researchers controlled heavy drinking.
This is not the first time doubts have been raised on the idea of HDL as good cholesterol.
A study on 1.7 million veterans done back in August also found that people in this range depicted deaths from all causes. Clinical trials on drugs that improve HDL have also failed to show improved health among patients.
So what are the lessons learned?
Well, this research showed that individuals should not focus on having high HDL but rather, on having healthy lifestyles and eating habits that are friendly to the heart in a bid to reduce the chances of heart attack and stroke.
This study was not without limitations including an inability to look at different subclasses and particle sizes of HDL molecules, but it is still a good yardstick that can help you take care of your heart.