Background Information on Heart Health
Cholesterol is a sterol and a lipid found in the cell membranes of all body tissues, and transported in the blood plasma of all animals. Lesser amounts of cholesterol are also found in plant membranes.
Cholesterol is also synthesized by the body. It plays a central role in many biochemical processes, but is best known for its association with cardiovascular disease.
Cholesterol is minimally soluble in water and is transported in the bloodstream by lipoproteins (HDL, LDL, VLDL) that are water-soluble and able to carry cholesterol and triglycerides internally.
Guidelines set by the American Heart Association:
Total cholesterol is the sum of HDL, LDL, and VLDL. Total normal cholesterol levels for healthy adults should be under 200 mg/dl.
HDL (high density lipoprotein)
High-density lipoproteins (HDL) is a class of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol from the body's tissues to the liver. It is hypothesised that HDL can remove cholesterol from atheroma within arteries, and transport it back to the liver for excretion or re-utilization; the main reason why it is sometimes called "good cholesterol", or HDL-C.
Studies have shown that high concentrations of HDL (over 60 mg/dL) have protective values against cardiovascular diseases such as ischemic stroke and myocardial infarction. Low concentrations of HDL (below 40 mg/dL for men, below 50 mg/dL for women) is a positive risk factor for these atherosclerotic diseases.
Guidelines set by the American Heart Association, NIH and NCEP:
Certain changes in lifestyle can have a positive impact on raising HDL levels such as: aerobic exercise, weight loss, smoking cessation, removing trans fatty acids from the diet; drinking 1-2 servings of alcoholic beverages per day, adding soluble fiber to diet, and limiting intake of dietary fat to 30%-35% of total calories.
LDL (low density lipoprotein)
LDL transports cholesterol and triglycerides from the liver and small intestine to the arteries. Increased LDL level is associated with atherosclerosis, and thus heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. This is why it is called "bad" cholesterol.
LDL poses a risk for cardiovascular disease when it invades the endothelium and becomes oxidized. A complex set of biochemical reactions regulates the oxidation of LDL, chiefly stimulated by the presence of free radicals in the endothelium. Nitric oxide down-regulates this oxidation process catalyzed by L-arginine.
Guidelines set by the American Heart Association, NIH and NCEP:
VLDL (vary low lipoprotein)
Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL) is a lipoprotein subclass. It is assembled in the liver from cholesterol and apolipoproteins, and converted in the bloodstream to low density lipoprotein (LDL).
VLDL transports endogenous triglycerides, phospholipids, cholesterol and cholesteryl esters, which functions as the body's internal transport mechanism for lipids.
VLDL levels have been correlated with accelerated rates of atherosclerosis, and are elevated in a number of diseases and metabolic states.
Triglycerides are the main constituents of vegetable oil and animal fats. Lower triglyceride levels are just as important as normal cholesterol levels. As a major component of very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) and chylomicrons, triglycerides are transporters of dietary fat.
High level of triglycerides in the bloodstream have been linked to atherosclerosis, heart disease and stroke. However, the negative impact of increased level of triglycerides are lower than that of LDL:HDL ratios. There is a correlation between lower triglyceride levels and reduce risk for heart disease.
Guidelines set by the American Heart Association.
Homocysteine is a chemical compound that is homologous to the naturally-occurring amino acid cysteine. Deficiencies of the vitamins folic acid, B6, and B12 can lead to high homocysteine level. There are reports that thrombosis and cardiovascular disease occurs more often in people with elevated homocysteine.
Homocysteine appears to be downregulated by high concentrations of polyphenol antioxidants. These antioxidants down-regulate the formation
of reactive oxygen species, the key chemicals in cardiovascular disease. Direct generation of reactive oxygen species by homocysteine may also contribute to biological damage.
Scientific studies sugggest that homocysteine degrades and inhibits the formation of the three main structural components of the artery, collagen, elastin and the proteoglycans.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a plasma protein, an acute phase protein produced by the liver. Recent research suggests that patients with elevated basal levels of CRP are at an increased risk for diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Those who consume higher amount of trans fat have higher blood levels of C-reactive protein. Although some research indicated that CRP may only be a moderate risk factor for cardiovascular disease, others have shown that CRP inhibition can be a safe and effective therapy for myocardial and cerebral infarcts.
Low risk: <1mg/L
High risk: >3mg/L
Elevated concentrations of oxidized LDL cholesterol promotes atheroma formation in the walls of arteries, which is the principal cause of coronary heart and cardiovascular diseases. In contrast, HDL cholesterol has been the only identified mechanism by which cholesterol can be removed from atheroma. Thus lower triglyceride levels are critical. Increased concentrations of HDL correlate with lower rates of atheroma progressions and even regression.
Of the lipoprotein fractions, LDL, IDL and VLDL are regarded as atherogenic. Levels of these fractions, rather than the total cholesterol level, correlate with the extent and progress of atherosclerosis.
These effects are further complicated by the relative concentration of asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) in the endothelium, since ADMA is a relaxant of the endothelium. Thus, high levels of ADMA, associated with high oxidized levels of LDL pose a heightened risk factor for cardio-vascular disease.
Nitric oxide is an important signaling molecule in the body of mammals and one of the few gaseous signaling molecules known.
In the body, nitric oxide is synthesized from arginine and oxygen. The endothelium (inner lining) of blood vessels use nitric oxide to signal the surrounding smooth muscle to relax, thus dilating the artery and increasing blood flow.
Dealing with high cholesterol, LDL, triglyceride
There are a number of choices we can undertake to obtain normal cholesterol levels. The most effective one is to make a lifestyle change that follows a healthy diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, dietary cholesterol, processed foods; and is high in fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains,
nuts, seeds and good fats; Incorporate plenty of regular exercise and physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight are also critical to normal cholesterol levels.
Foods and supplements that support normal cholesterol levels and normal triglyceride levels.
Many foods and supplements have been known to support heart and circulatory health such as: minerals (magnesium), vitamins (such as niacin, K2), amino acids (L-carnitine), fibers, plant sterols, omega-3 fatty acids, garlic, and plant derived powders and concentrates. In the last category, there are quite few choices that include: garlic extract, Red yeast rice, CoQ10, Nattokinase, Notoginseng, Hawthorne berry, Salvia miltiorrhiza, Polygonum cuspidatum, antioxidants, D-ribose, and of course, the newer and proprietary plant compounds in NuLiv's CardioXine Complex™.
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