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Oxidized Cholesterol: Everything You Should Know
Most people have heard about cholesterol, even if not in the context of their lives, but in the lives of others. It is a very common medical term that is becoming increasingly relevant in today’s times. The rate of incidence of higher cholesterol levels is high due to multiple reasons. Understanding and knowing all about cholesterol, the healthy range, abnormal levels, and how to lower them would be helpful even in the long run so that there is no unnecessary issue regarding the same, especially ones that can be prevented.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance present in the blood. It travels through the blood to different parts of the body. It can be of different densities – this is the quality that determines whether the cholesterol is healthy or not.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the good cholesterol as it picks up the other kinds of cholesterol and takes them back to the liver for them to be disposed of.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the bad cholesterol as it carries cholesterol to the parts of your body that may not need it. If there is too much LDL in the bloodstream, it can deposit itself on the walls of the arteries and clog them.
When your arteries are narrow or blocked, freshly oxygenated and nutrient-filled blood may not be able to reach the other organs and parts of the brain. This can lead to severe consequences like stroke, heart attack, heart failure, etc. The aim would be to have higher levels of HDL and low levels of LDL so that proper equilibrium regarding optimal cholesterol levels is maintained in the blood.
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What is oxidized cholesterol?
You may have been aware of the main types of cholesterol – HDL, and LDL, but did you know that there were many other variants like VLDL cholesterol, triglycerides, oxidized cholesterol, etc? Each of them will have different properties and functions. Not all of them are good and not everything is bad, the key is to find the right kind of balance between these cholesterol levels so that there is no issue in health and the development of health conditions later in life.
One variant, the oxidized type, is caused when low-density lipoproteins (the bad cholesterol) undergo a chemical reaction. This is essentially what builds up on the artery walls. Since the arteries are muscular tubes that are responsible for carrying blood away from the heart to other organs when they get clogged due to the oxidization reaction, it can result in severe issues. A higher amount of oxidation in cholesterol often causes a condition called atherosclerosis. In laypeople’s terms, this is the hardening of the arteries which can decrease the blood flow in them increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke. The immune system can also mistake this oxidized type of cholesterol for bacteria. It will try to fight the bacteria that can cause inflammation within the arterial walls.
To maintain a balance, knowing about this condition and what causes them can help you prevent the onset of chronic and acute issues in the body. The prevention and reduction of plaque build-up can help you optimize the functioning of your organs.
What risk elements are connected to oxidized cholesterol?
Oxidized cholesterol can be built in the body and can be harmful as it can block the insides of the arterial walls. Some of the most common ways that can lead to this process of oxidation would be:
- Fried foods – these are the unhealthiest forms of foods that you can consume that can lead to a faster oxidation of blood cholesterol causing harm to the body. French fries, chips, fried chicken, etc are not helpful to the cause.
- Polyunsaturated fats – Excessive consumption of these kinds of fats is found in vegetable oils and other foods like sunflower oil, walnuts, flax seeds, fish, etc. can also result in potential harm to the body
- Cigarettes – Tobacco can create reactions within the body that can harm many different organs like the heart, and lungs, and can also affect blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
- Other sources that can catalyze this process of oxidation of cholesterol in the blood would be diet related. Eating partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats, etc is unhealthy. Because vegetable oils (with trans fats) have an extra molecule of hydrogen added during production, there is faster oxidation. Processed foods could also be sources of cholesterol that can be oxidized later – fast food, baked goods, etc are examples of those.
These foods are associated with inflammation in the body. This inflammation is the result of damage to the cell membrane because of the oxidized particles of LDL present in the blood. Identifying the risks will help in the prevention of the condition.
How to prevent oxidized cholesterol
Multiple things can be done to prevent blood cholesterol from undergoing the process of oxidation. Higher levels of cholesterol, especially the bad ones, can lead to many health conditions that may end up being harmful and even fatal. Therefore, doctors recommend following certain steps that may help a person prevent the onset of oxidized cholesterol and the elevation of unhealthy cholesterol in the first place.
- Healthy fats – focus on incorporating healthy fats into your diet. Monounsaturated fats are considered healthier and have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Moderation of saturated fats – It may not always be possible to avoid saturated fats. Identify food products that have abundant saturated fats and eat them in moderation.
- Fruits and vegetables – A higher quantity of fruits and vegetables in the diet can help add nutrients to the body and lower the levels of harmful cholesterol
- Read nutrition labels – When you purchase packaged food from supermarkets or stores, make sure to read the labels to get an insight into the nutrition levels. Avoid hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated foods.
It is also possible that for high-risk people, as a preventative measure, doctors may prescribe certain medications. However, it is seen that natural supplements or the inclusion of a healthy diet is the best way forward to prevent these conditions.
A good preventative measure would also be regular testing. In case you have a history of high cholesterol or blood pressure, doctors may ask you to get these tests done once in 6-12 months as a precaution. A routine lipid profile might be recommended. This does not identify the total level of cholesterol that is oxidized – these levels can be seen with a CT scan to check the coronary artery calcium score.
Getting regular tests to identify and stay ahead of risk factors is important. Since these conditions do not have outward symptoms to look out for, you may have to be proactive and keep an eye on what is going on in your body for the best results. Defense is the best treatment in this case.
Which Foods Eliminate Oxidized Cholesterol?
What you consume is known to play a significant role in the prevention of oxidized cholesterol in the body. Certain foods that are known to reduce the levels of this type of cholesterol are:
- Fruits and vegetables – These foods are rich in antioxidants. They also have natural properties that make them anti-inflammatory and this can help reduce the overall oxidation of LDL cholesterol in the blood.
- Healthy fats – Since healthy fats are not harmful, consuming foods like nuts, avocados, seafood, etc is often associated with an increase in good cholesterol levels. These also have higher antioxidant effects as they can neutralize the enzyme that plays an active role in oxidation
The inclusion of these foods in the daily diet chart can be helpful overall with the prevention of the onset of this process, and subsequently, avoiding other health conditions that can also be fatal.
Foods That Increase Oxidized Cholesterol
Many foods result in an increase of this bad and unhealthy cholesterol in the blood. Doctors ask these foods be completely removed from the diet plans of people who are at a greater risk of developing problems related to high cholesterol. Such foods are:
- Trans fats – All the so-called yummy foods are unhealthy because they are high in trans fat levels. These are pastries, deep-fried foods, potato chips, foods filled with lard, etc. High saturated and trans fats can be problematic for health.
- Sugary foods – Food with higher content of refined sugar can also hasten the process of oxidation of cholesterol leading to potential issues.
- Foods with natural sugar like fruits are not known to increase cholesterol and are safe to consume.
How Else Can Oxidized LDL Be Reduced?
Prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the blood with the following steps:
- Quit smoking – If you are someone who relies on a certain number of cigarettes per day, avoid it as much as you can. Quitting would give the best results. Smoking can expose a person to chemicals that promote the process of the formation of free radicals in the body. This can increase oxidative damage
- Keep blood sugar levels in check – If you are a person living with diabetes, it would be important to control the levels. Blood sugar levels can be impacted by many conditions. These can also increase your chances of developing heart attack, stroke, etc. If you can keep your sugar and HbA1c levels optimal, you will reduce any further complications associated with these medical conditions.
- Exercise – Regular exercise is key to preventing and managing several health conditions. It is seen that an active lifestyle can lead to the elevation of HDL levels in the body. This good cholesterol plays a role in eliminating the bad cholesterol from the blood
Some medications like statins, etc also have anti-inflammatory properties and can be prevented by doctors to prevent the build-up of plaque in the arteries, thus preventing a rise in bad cholesterol levels.
The importance of preventing the oxidation of cholesterol and lowering the levels of LDL cholesterol cannot be overstated. The lack of signs or symptoms of this condition makes it even more dangerous. Therefore, prevention is the best cure. Engage in an active healthy diet and regular exercise. Do not skip your medications and avoid smoking and alcohol as much as possible. Regular testing will be a good way to stay one step ahead of any potential issue that may arise.
1. Do Statins lower oxidized cholesterol?
Yes, statins are medications that are made to lower the unhealthy (LDL) cholesterol levels in the body. They reduce the amount of cholesterol made by the liver and also assist the liver to remove the cholesterol that is already present in the blood. Low-density oxidized lipoproteins are targeted by these medications.
2. Do eggs have oxidized cholesterol?
Yes, when eggs are cooked at high temperatures, the cholesterol present in them can be oxidized. This oxidation can produce compounds like oxysterols. A greater presence of oxysterols is linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
3. Is there a blood test for oxidized cholesterol?
If your doctor suspects higher levels of cholesterol in your body, they may recommend a routine blood test called a lipid profile. This profile will reveal the HDL, LDL, and triglyceride levels in your body. It will not reveal the oxidized cholesterol. This can be understood with the help of a coronary artery calcium score CT scan.
4. What reduces oxidized LDL?
You can reduce the oxidized level of LDL in the body with a combination of approaches – use medications if required along with a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. These, together, can be the holistic approach that may be needed to not only reduce the unhealthy cholesterol in the body but also ensure that the levels stay low over the long run.
5. What is the difference between LDL and oxidized LDL?
LDL is the normal cholesterol present in the blood produced by the liver or as a result of the dietary cholesterol from foods. Oxidized cholesterol is the type of LDL cholesterol that can go through a chemical reaction of oxidation. This can lead to inflammation and other health concerns like atherosclerosis.
This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.