It has been found that LDL cholesterol or also known as bad cholesterol is not what is damaging your heart. But rather the type of LDL particles circulating in your blood. LDL particles can range between large and small. Smaller LDL particles are more likely to become oxidized cholesterol, making them more detrimental to your cardiovascular health.
Oxidized cholesterol can produce inflammation in arteries that supply blood to your organs and other tissues, thus promoting atherosclerosis and increasing your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
The Formation Of Oxidized Cholesterol
The oxidation of LDL is thought to occur when the LDL cholesterol particles in your body react with free radicals. The oxidized LDL itself then becomes more reactive with the surrounding tissues, which can produce tissue damage. Some of the things that appear to increase levels of oxidized LDL include:
- Eating a diet high in trans fats
- Poorly controlled diabetes
- Diagnosed with metabolic syndrome
When LDL cholesterol becomes oxidized, it enters the endothelium or inner lining of any artery in the body, which includes:
- carotid artery
- coronary artery (arteries that supply your legs and arms with blood)
While most of us have been taught that LDL is the bad cholesterol, it turns out that it is really the oxidized LDL that is problematic to heart health. A 1998 study published in Prostaglandins & Other Lipid Mediators showed that oxidized cholesterol contributes to heart disease by increasing the synthesis of thromboxane in blood platelets, thereby increasing blood clotting.
The American Journal of Cardiovascular Disease, published in February 2013, showing that oxidized lipids contribute to heart disease as well, by increasing deposition of calcium on the arterial wall, which also interrupts blood flow.
When macrophages, cholesterol and other lipids begin to accumulate at the damaged site of the blood vessel, this adhesion is the forming of plaque, that once started, will thicken over time.
Therefore, narrowing the blood vessel and restricting blood flow from the heart to other parts of the body.
When this begins to happen, a variety of health conditions can occur, such as cardiovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease, stroke and dementia.
Rancid Vegetable Oils and Oxidized Cholesterol
For decades conventional Western medicine encouraged non consumption of butter, saying it has saturated fat. However, many studies now show that it is the trans fats that are the culprit of heart disease.
PennState Extension says the side effects of trans fatty acids are the raise in LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) levels. At relatively high intakes they can also lower HDL (the good cholesterol) levels.
If you are eating packaged foods made with hydrogenated, or partially hydrogenated oils, you are eating trans fats.
Additionally, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vegetable oils, are a source of bad fats.
Eating these rancid oils from the oil industry, such as soybean oil, canola oil, and corn oil, among others, drives the internal oxidation of cholesterol.
The consumption of oxysterols or oxidized derivatives of cholesterol from commercially fried foods such as fast foods, which are cooked with rancid vegetable oils that cannot withstand the high heat cooking of deep frying.
Also these oxysterols are found in many commonly-consumed foods and are formed during their manufacture and/or processing.
The consumption of oxysterols or oxidized derivatives of cholesterol have been found to be the ongoing assault to the cardiovascular system.
How To Prevent the Formation of Oxidized Cholesterol
There are several things that you can do to help prevent the formation of oxidized LDL. Prevention of the formation of oxidized LDL only requires a few changes to your lifestyle or everyday habits.
And no it doesn't include taking medications, like statins (if you are taking statins or medication fore high blood pressure, consult with your physician before stopping your medications).
- If you smoke, quit
- Stop consuming trans fats - found in pastries, deep fried foods, potato chips among others
- Eat more fruits and vegetables - produce contains antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties that could help to reduce the oxidation of cholesterol
- Diagnosed with diabetes or metabolic syndrome, get these conditions under control- this includes: losing weight, eating healthy and exercising. If lifestyle changes are not helping you to control your blood sugar levels and weight, your healthcare provider may talk to you about taking medication to control these conditions.