Cholesterol Management: Cholesterol and Diabetes

LDL cholesterol is sometimes called "bad cholesterol"; HDL cholesterol is sometimes called "good cholesterol." LDL is what takes the cholesterol out into the bloodstream to distribute it to where it is needed in the body. HDL takes the excess cholesterol out of the bloodstream and returns it to the liver.

It is generally good to have higher HDL rates than LDL. Diabetes can affect the distribution of the lipoproteins. As such, diabetes can lead to a higher incidence of heart disease.

Diabetes affects cholesterol in certain ways: people with diabetes are likely to have LDL particles that are more damaging to the artery walls, because the cholesterol sticks to the artery walls. People with diabetes can have lower-than-normal HDL rates, which means that cholesterol is not removed from the blood efficiently. Diabetics can also have higher rates of triglycerides, another blood lipid (blood fat) that can cause complications.

Glucose latches on to lipoproteins, particularly LDL. Sugar-coated LDL stands in the bloodstream longer, and can lead to an increase in arterial plaque. Arterial plaque is a build-up on the artery walls. It leads to irregular blood flow, and in severe cases, it can block the artery entirely, causing a stroke. These blood clots, called a thrombus, can lead to thrombosis and other medical conditions. Some studies have shown that you can lower your arterial plaque by taking Vitamin K (potassium), which is found in fruits such as bananas.

Some people with diabetes have to work to control their cholesterol with their diet and exercise. Eating less fat (such as butter, margarine, and cooking oil) can help you lower your cholesterol. Eating more fruit is another way to combat high LDL cholesterol. Choose low-fat dairy options (try drinking skim instead of 2%, or using low-fat sour cream), and choose whole grain bread options. Exercising for 30 minutes a day is an important part in controlling both your cholesterol and your diabetes. Limit your servings of meat, fish, and poultry. Animal products are the only ones that contain potentially amounts of cholesterol.

As you have probably noticed, the lifestyle changes involved in managing cholesterol are very similar to the techniques for managing diabetes. Rather than going on cholesterol-reducing drugs, alter your lifestyle first. You will be healthier and happier overall if you manage your cholesterol naturally. Very few people need cholesterol-lowering drugs, except those with certain predispositions and genetic conditions. If you do choose to use drugs, be sure that your doctor and pharmacist know what diabetes medications, and other medications, that you take.

Cholesterol, like diabetes, can be managed by living a healthy lifestyle. Eat properly, exercise regularly, and look after yourself, and you will most likely never have a problem with your cholesterol levels.