Are you denying yourself fatty foods and swallowing statin drugs, battling to bring the LDL levels down.
LDL is not the real baddie in the cholesterol saga, a new villain has emerged – a syrupy sweet chemical which leaves a nasty taste in the blood vessels.
Cholesterol biochemistry is complicated. There are two major role players in the game and a couple of minor players.
- The first player is LDL (low density lipoprotein), it has picked up the unfortunate tag of bad cholesterol. But its badness is debatable, since it is the cholesterol which is dispatched from the liver to patch up cells, who need a little TLC.
- The second player is HDL (high density lipoprotein), it has acquired the tag of good cholesterol. It is considered good, because it is on its way back to the liver and out of your body. It is really the left overs and used bits which are being eliminated.
The cholesterol blood test
When you have your cholesterol checked, the goal is to have low LDL and high HDL.
High LDL levels are considered a heart attack waiting to happen. Cholesterol lowering drugs, such as the statins, are typically prescribed to stop your liver making the LDL particles, with the hopes that this will mitigate the risk.
But the approach is a little back to front, because LDL is a cell’s band aid, so preventing the liver from sending in reinforcements to patch up the problem, without dealing with the root issue, is probably of limited value.
High LDL levels are simply a sign that the blood vessels are in trouble.
Sugar turns the LDL sticky
Researchers at Warick University have uncovered the real villain. It is an alter ego of LDL, called MGmin-low-density lipoprotein. This is the real bad cholesterol, ultra-bad cholesterol if you like, because this is the cholesterol which is clogging up arteries.
MGmin-low-density lipoprotein is LDL which has been smothered in sugar. The process of smothering in sugar is known as glycation.
When LDL is covered with sugar it becomes smaller and denser, the molecule changes shape and it becomes very sticky. The syrupy mass tends to stick like glue to the artery walls, creating fatty plaques. As these plaques grow bigger, they reduce blood flow, creating pressure in the pipes (hypertension). Finally, the pressure creates a weak spot and one of the pipes blows, triggering a heart attack or stroke.
The enemy is sugar not LDL
Sugar is the superglue that sticks cholesterol. The key to beating the odds, is to get the sugar level down.
This is a challenge when you suffer from insulin resistance and a nightmare once insulin resistance has progressed to diabetes. But a good place to start is to Rein in insulin.Glycation of LDL by Methylglyoxal Increases Arterial Atherogenicity: A Possible Contributor to Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Diabetes. Diabetes (2011) 60(7) : 1973-1980. N. Rabbani, L. Godfrey, M. Xue, F. Shaheen, M. Geoffrion, R. Milne, P. J. Thornalley.
Curious, want to know more about the chemistry of cardiovascular disease ?
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