Everything in Moderation, Including Good Cholesterol

For a long time, we have been told to keep an eye on the amount of low-density lipoproteins, also known as “bad cholesterols”, that we consume. Blood tests were usually used to focus on the levels of bad cholesterol, as this is believed to be an indicator of the risk faced by the individual, of suffering a stroke or heart attack.

This is due to the fact that low-density lipoproteins, in large amounts, encourage the buildup of fatty deposits on the walls of our arteries, which can cause them to become harder and narrower — a condition called atherosclerosis.

High-density lipoproteins, or “good cholesterol”, conversely, has always been seen as unreservedly good. Unlike its evil sibling, it actively protects our arteries, by encouraging the removal of all cholesterol to the liver. It has, therefore, been assumed that the higher the levels of high-density lipoproteins in our blood, the better it is for our health.

All of that has been cast into doubt — according to an article published by AFP Relaxnews — by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine. Their studies of high-density lipoproteins have led them to conclude that there is a much narrower band of ‘safe’ level of the ‘good cholesterols’ than was previously thought.

The researchers conducted a study, which showed that very high, or very low, levels of high-density lipoproteins can have profoundly negative effects on our health. Over a period of ten years, 1.7 million male veterans were monitored to investigate the effects of the so-called ‘good cholesterols’.

The researchers were able to conclude that lower levels of high-density lipoproteins were often associated with kidney disease — an important factor in premature deaths. However, regardless of kidney health, they were able to conclude that both high and low levels put a person at a greater risk of dying earlier.

The U-shaped correlation between high-density lipoproteins and risk of premature death was published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, and will now force doctors and nutritionists to reconsider the advice they give to patients.

A diet high in antioxidants is usually recommended to limit the buildup of low-density lipoproteins. This usually means eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, plus barley and oats (revealed in a recent Canadian study to potentially reduce the risk of low-density lipoprotein-related cardiovascular disease by 7%). Cholesterol is commonly found in all meat products, especially offal.

Andrew Maxwell

Andrew is a former British journalist with years of experience working as a media correspondent. He currently works as a freelance writer and consultant, producing content for a number of online publications.

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