What is the difference between good cholesterol and bad cholesterol? The mere mention of cholesterol is enough to make people wince. Its reputation often precedes it in such a way that finding it in a nutritional label of a product is more than enough for anyone to put it right back in the shelf. Well, let’s not be quick to judge and give cholesterol a chance. After all, despite of cholesterol’s unsavory reputation, it actually plays an important role in several of your body processes. Cells use cholesterol to build membranes. It is also used by the sex hormones and by the digestive system. Approximately 20% of your total body cholesterol comes from dietary sources and the rest is synthesized in the liver. In an article entitled “Vegetarian Diets”, published by the American Dietetic Association, Volume 109, Issue 7 (July 2009), several benefits of the vegan diet were identified, and one of which is its role in lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol level. With the aid of a special kind of protein called lipoprotein, cholesterol is transported through the bloodstreams from the liver to the cells and tissues that need it. There are two kinds of lipoproteins: LDLs and HDLs, and each have different functions. LDL cholesterol is referred to as the “bad cholesterol”. They are your body’s main transporter of cholesterol from the liver, to all the cells of your body.
As such, it is heavily loaded with cholesterol. HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is the “good cholesterol” and plays the role of cholesterol scavengers. After the LDLs have performed their function, and the cholesterol needs of the cells and tissues were met, LDLs releases the cholesterol in the bloodstream. Ideally, the HDLs role is to pick up the excess cholesterol and transport them to the liver for storage. However, on instances when the cholesterol level in the bloodstream is high, and there is not enough HDL to pick them up, the cholesterol builds up in the walls of the arteries. If this happens, then there is one word to describe this—Trouble! T
hese build ups are called plaques, and may eventually cause narrowed or hardened artery walls, leading to heart diseases. This is why HDL is considered the good cholesterol and the LDL is the bad cholesterol. Vegan Diets Lower Cholesterol Levels! You read that right. No amount of cholesterol lowering medications can beat the effectiveness of a raw vegan diet in lowering cholesterol levels. A diet that consists of animal products is high in cholesterol. On the other hand, a raw vegan diet has relatively low cholesterol content and at times, none at all. Amazing, right? And that’s not all. It is also effective in lowering your LDLs because, unlike animal products, vegetables are low in saturated fats. Saturated fats are “bad fats” and these are the fats you don’t want to mess with since they are known to cause high cholesterol level. Another way a healthy vegan diet is effective in lowering cholesterol level is through its high soluble fiber content. With fibers in your intestinal tract, cholesterol is not easily absorbed by the body. You see, there are several ways you can benefit from a vegan diet or vegetarian diet. By feeding your body with the good cholesterol, you’ll reap the rewards of good health. Not only will it reduce the risk of heart diseases but it is also able to provide you the nutrients for important body functions.