Optimum Cholesterol Levels for Liver Health
by Nicole Cutler
Embedded in vehicles known as lipoproteins, cholesterol is transported in the
bloodstream to be used or excreted throughout the body. When these inhabitants of
our blood become overpopulated, traffic jams can result, blocking subsequent blood
flow in the vessels. Impeded circulation is a primary factor in most types of illness.
Cholesterol and the Liver
Excessive cholesterol in the blood can deposit plaques along the vessels, contributing
to the development of atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries. While
atherosclerosis is a leading cause of heart attacks and strokes, it can also have
negative consequences on the liver. The relationship between the liver and blood
cholesterol is multi-faceted:
· Synthesis of bile acids - Essential to the digestive process, the liver synthesizes bile
acids from cholesterol. Bile acids emulsify dietary fat, allowing for its absorption in the
· Liver circulation - Liver disease, particularly cirrhosis, can lead to portal
hypertension. Portal hypertension is the result of high blood pressure within the portal
vein, where the blood enters the liver. When blood cannot flow easily through the
liver, internal pressure increases, posing the risk of ruptured blood vessels.
Cholesterol deposits may also contribute to decreased blood flow in the liver, further
restricting the vessels that safely handle the liver's duties.
· Removal of cholesterol - High-density lipoproteins (HDL) help remove excessive
cholesterol from the body by transporting it to the liver for its breakdown and
excretion. As a diseased liver's function decreases, do does its ability to remove
excessive cholesterol from the blood supply.
What is Excessive Cholesterol?
According to the American Heart Association, about 20 percent of the U.S.
population has high blood cholesterol levels. When getting your cholesterol checked,
there are four numeric values that come into play - total cholesterol, LDL
(low-density lipoproteins), HDL (high-density lipoproteins) and triglycerides.
· Total Cholesterol - A comprehensive measurement of the cholesterol in your blood,
it is desirable to have a value less than 200 mg/dL. A person carries a borderline level
of health risks if the total cholesterol is between 200-239 mg/dL, and is considered
high risk if total cholesterol exceeds 239 mg/dL.
· LDL - This cholesterol is the primary cause of harmful fatty buildup in arteries. The
higher the LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, the greater the health risk. Ideal LDL
levels are below 100 mg/dL, while values exceeding 159 mg/dL carry a high risk of
· HDL - This form carries blood cholesterol back to the liver, where it can be
eliminated. HDL helps prevent a cholesterol buildup in blood vessels. While values
typically range from 40 to 60 mg/dL, an HDL under 40 mg/dL puts the individual at
risk for cardiovascular disease. Studies suggest that high levels of HDL cholesterol
reduce your risk of heart attack.
· Triglycerides - Triglycerides are the chemical form in which most fat exists in food as
well as in the body. Triglyceride levels under 150 mg/dL are normal, while values
exceeding 199 mg/dL carry a high risk of cardiovascular disease.
Due to the delicate balance of useful cholesterol and damaging cholesterol, most
physicians rely on specific ratios of these four numeric values to determine healthy
Liver Benefits from Good Cholesterol Ratio
The public is being increasingly educated on the various ways to maintain the best
possible cholesterol levels. These include lifestyle modifications, such as smoking
cessation, regular exercise, a diet high in fiber and low in saturated fat, as well as
reliance on cholesterol lowering medications.
Awareness of cardiovascular risk by improving your cholesterol ratio will benefit not
only your heart's health, but also your liver's health. While the heart muscle pumps
blood throughout the body, the liver must cleanse the blood and extract ingredients
critical to sustaining life.
Just as the heart and liver contribute to blood maintenance health, all of our organs
and body systems work in unison to support the proper functioning of our bodies.
Factors that affect one system will likely affect every other. So if optimal liver health
is desired, then steps to increase HDL and decrease LDL and triglycerides are
definitely called for.
Henkel, John, Keeping Cholesterol Under Control, FDA Consumer Magazine, January/February 1999.
http://www.abouthypertension.info, Health Issues Associated with Hypertension, NCERx LLC 2006.
http://www.americanheart.org, About Cholesterol, American Heart Association, Inc., 2006.
http://www.liverdisease.com, Cholesterol and Liver Disease/Hepatitis, Melissa Palmer, MD, 2004.
About The Author
This article was prepared for . Visit us to learn more about .
Typically assumed to inflict solely
negative consequences, cholesterol is
actually a necessary component of a
healthy body. Cholesterol is a waxy
substance in the blood, critical in the
digestion of dietary fats, the building
of cell walls and in manufacturing
vitamins and hormones. One of the
secrets to securing a healthy body,
including a healthy liver, is to maintain
an ideal balance of cholesterol levels.
If cholesterol levels are too high, a
person is at risk for coronary artery
disease, heart disease, a metabolic
disorder or even liver disease.
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remedies and before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise program.
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