Small LDL particles are triggered by consumption of carbohydrates. Eat more “healthy whole grains,” for instance, and small LDL particles skyrocket.
Increased hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c, a reflection of the last 60-90 days’ blood sugars, is likewise a reflection of carbohydrate consumption. The greater the carbohydrate consumption and/or carbohydrate intolerance, the greater the HbA1c. Most regard a HbA1c of 6.5% or greater diabetes; values of 5.7-6.4% pre-diabetes. However, note that any value of 5.0% or more signifies that the process of glycation is occurring at a faster than normal rate. Recall that endogenous glycation, i.e., glucose modification of proteins, ensues whenever blood sugars increase over the normal range of 90 mg/dl (equivalent to HbA1c of 4.7-5.0%). Glycation is the fundamental process that leads to cataracts, arthritis, and atherosclerosis.
Put the two together–increased quantity of small LDL particles along with HbA1c of 5.0% or higher–and you have a powerful formula for heart disease and coronary plaque growth. This is because small LDL particles are not just smaller; they also have a unique conformation that exposes a (lysine residue-bearing) portion of the apoprotein B molecule contained within that makes small LDL particles uniquely glycation-prone. Compared to large LDL particles, small LDL particles are 8-fold more prone to glycation.
So glycated small LDL particles are present when HbA1c is increased above 5.0%. Small, glycated LDL particles are poorly recognized by the liver receptor that ordinarily picks up and disposes LDL particles, unlike large LDL particles, meaning small LDL particles “live” much longer in the bloodstream, providing more opportunityt to do its evil handiwork. Curiously, small LDL particles are avidly taken up by inflammatory white blood cells that can live in the walls of arteries, where they are oxidized–”glycoxidized”–and add to coronary atherosclerotic plaque.
The key is therefore to tackle both small LDL particles and HbA1c.
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