We have all heard of high cholesterol being bad for health. Some of us know that it is actually the LDL cholesterol that is particularly bad. Of the LDL cholesterol, you should know that it is the oxidized cholesterol that is the dangerous element.
LDL cholesterol or LDL-C floats in our blood stream in various sized particles ranging from small and dense to large and fluffy.
The larger particles are almost protective while the small dense ones increase your risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.
This may indicate that people with small-sized LDL particles could be the object of higher LDL values.
LDL gets oxidized when its smaller particles react with the free radicals. It is the oxidized LDL that poses a bigger threat to your cardiovascular health.
A free radical is an unpaired atom or group of atoms that are unstable and highly reactive. Free radicals are formed due to:
- The natural physiological processes in the body
- Environmental factors such as an unhealthy diet, processed foods, stress, smoking, alcohol, exercise, inflammation, drugs or exposure to sunlight and air pollution.
The oxidized and damaged LDL triggers an inflammation process that attracts the white blood cells (WBCs) called macrophages. This happens because the WBCs are the guardians of our immune system and fight inflammation and infection.
The WBCs engulf the oxidized LDL forming new fat cells, which clump together, stick to the walls of the arteries and form plaques. This is called atherosclerosis, which is the common cause of a heart attack and stroke.
Another way the oxidized LDLs can increase your risk is they also prevent nitric acid production. It is nitric acid that helps prevent atherosclerosis by relaxing blood vessels.
Due to its “badness”, high levels of LDL need to be lowered and brought down within its normal blood levels.