Cholesterol is a fat like waxy substance found in all cells of our body and vital for their proper functioning. But all cholesterol is not good.
Good vs Bad Cholesterol
Produced mainly by the liver, cholesterol is transported through our bloodstream via two kinds of carrier particles known as low density lipoproteins (LDL) and high density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL carries cholesterol to our arteries whereas HDL carries cholesterol away from them to our liver to be removed. LDL cholesterol is considered “bad” because it contributes to plaque, a thick hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible. The “good” HDL helps by removing excess cholesterol from the arteries and prevent the development of plaque.
High Blood Cholesterol
When we eat a diet high in cholesterol or saturated and trans fats it affects the cholesterol levels in our blood. People with high blood cholesterol have a greater chance of heart disease, peripheral artery disease or even stroke. Lowering our cholesterol may slow, reduce, or even stop the buildup of plaque in our arteries and reduce its risk of rupturing and causing dangerous blood clots. Having healthy levels of both types of lipoproteins is also important. Presence of high LDL (above 100mg/dL) or too little HDL (below 40 mg/dL) poses a higher risk of developing these diseases.
The first step to maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol is to eliminate cholesterol from our diet as our body makes all the cholesterol it needs. Since only animal based foods such as meat, dairy and eggs contain cholesterol, following a plant based diet lowers the risk considerably. The second step is to limit the intake of saturated fats also mainly found in animal products in greater amount. Together with this it is important to cut out processed foods which are a high source of trans fats.
It has been found that following a whole foods plant based diet can considerably reduce the risk of disease as well as quickly create healthy levels of cholesterol in the body and diminish health risks to a large extent.