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October 14, 2016

Updated LDL Cholesterol information

by Helene van den Berg

I, me and my fat, Part 7

In 1970, LDL, was called the bad cholesterol, because it was thought the cholesterol caused the buildup of plaque in our arteries. Now in 2010,  they say it is not the cholesterol carried by the LDL that is to blame for heart disease, but the particle (Low-Density Lipoprotein or LDL) itself. Also, not all LDL particles appear to be equally harmful. The large and buoyant LDL particles are harmless, but it is the small, dense ones, that form plaques in the wall of our arteries.

Carbohydrate-rich diets, not only lower HDL and raise triglycerides, but they also make LDL small and dense!. These 3 effects increase our risk of heart disease. When we eat high-fat diets and avoid carbohydrates the opposite happens: HDL goes up, triglycerides go down and the LDL becomes larger and buoyant.


When we become insulin-resistant (when muscle and liver cells become resistant to the effect of the hormone insulin), we secrete more insulin and get fatter around the waist (fat cells are most sensitive to insulin).

The combination of these heart disease risk factors below, are now known as “metabolic syndrome”:

  • Blood pressure goes  up
  • Triglycerides go up
  • HDL goes down
  • LDL particles become small and dense
  • We become glucose-intolerant (can’t control our blood sugar)
  • We develop type 2 diabetes (not enough insulin)

More than a ¼ of the adult population in the US suffer from metabolic syndrome, which includes diabetes and obesity among it’s symptoms. As you get fatter, your waistline expands, you lose control of your blood sugar, you get hypertension, atherosclerosis, heart disease and strokes….and all of these are associated with lipid abnormalities – low HDL, high triglycerides and small, dense LDL….and all of these are triggered by insulin resistance and elevated insulin secretion….and by the carbohydrates in our diet, especially the sugars and high-fructose corn syrup in particular.

Metabolic syndrome points out that heart disease and diabetes are caused by insulin resistance and elevated levels of insulin and blood sugar, NOT by individual risk factors (e.g. not just high dense LDL ).

Insulin works to accumulate fat in the fat cells and these expanding fat cells, release inflammatory molecules or cytokines. Insulin works on the:

  • Liver – where it converts carbohydrate into fat /triglycerides and they are sent off into the bloodstream on the particles that eventually become small, dense LDL.
  • Kidneys –  to raise blood pressure by reabsorbing sodium; it also impairs the secretion of uric acid, which accumulates to unhealthy levels in the bloodstream (cause of gout).
  • Artery walls – stiffen them.

The insulin resistance with the chronically elevated blood sugar, causes oxidative stress, causing premature aging, the aging of our skin and stiffening of our arteries.

Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers (breast cancer, colon cancer), are associated with metabolic syndrome, obesity and diabetes. Alzheimer’s is referred to as the “type 3 diabetes”, because high blood pressure and insulin might cause the brain to deteriorate.


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