What Is Cholesterol -Why Do We Need It-What do there Count mean?
What is Cholesterol?
- It is a lipid (natural fat) that is carried in the blood. It is a soft waxy substance.
- Most cholesterol is made by the liver from the foods we eat, but a small amount is absorbed directly from cholesterol-rich foods such as eggs, dairy products and shellfish.
- The cholesterol is measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood (mg/dL).
Why do we need Cholesterol?
- Cholesterol is important for the formation of cell membranes and hormones. It plays a part in the production of steroid hormones (such as Estrogen, Testosterone and Cortisone), the transportation of fats around the body, the creation of Vitamin D (vital for strong bones and teeth) and to build cell membranes.
- Cholesterol molecules don't dissolve in the blood so they are being transported all around the body through carriers, which are called lipoproteins. These lipoproteins come in two forms depending on the amount of fat and protein they contain. These lipoproteins can be low or high-density - the difference of which is the difference between good and bad cholesterol.
- Our body needs cholesterol and it is synthesized in the liver. The problem is not the cholesterol itself but in the excessive cholesterol - particularly the "bad " LDL cholesterol which contributes to plaque build up in the arteries. The food we eat (particularly the saturated fat) can elevate LDL. An excess of LDL cholesterol can accumulate in the arteries that feed the heart and brain and this can lead to a heart attack. (The "good" HDL cholesterol contributes by taking away excess cholesterol).
*High Cholesterol potentially increases the risk of Heart Disease & Stroke.
Functions Of Cholestrol:
- Cholesterol is used by the body to manufacture steroids, or cortisone-like hormones, including the sex hormones. These hormones include testosterone, estrogen and cortisone. Combined, these hormones control a myriad of bodily functions.
- Cholesterol helps the liver produce bile acids. These acids are essential for digestion of fats and ridding the body of waste.
- Cholesterol acts as a cell to interconnect "lipid molecules". A lipid molecule is needed to stabilize our cell membranes. Without cholesterol, our bodies ruins.
- Cholesterol is an important part of the myelin sheath which is a neuron consists of fat-containing cells that insulate the axon from electrical activity. It is to ensure our brain functions properly by aiding route of electrical impulses. Without it, our brain would be difficult to focus and might lose of memory.
- Finally, Cholesterol has lots of beneficial on the human body immune system.
HDL (High Density Lipoprotein).
- This is known as the "good cholesterol" as it has a protective effect on the body, carrying harmful fatty deposits away from the arteries and back to the liver.
- Men should have a level of at least of 40 mg/dL and women should be no lower than 50 mg/dL.
LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein).
- This is known as the "bad cholesterol" as it transports the fatty deposits to the tissues encouraging a build-up on the artery walls. The LDL cholesterol is very sticky. This build -up causes a condition called atherosclerosis which leads to the narrowing of the arteries, restricting blood flow and so increasing the risk of heart disease or stroke.
- It is recommended that people have an LDL cholesterol ratio that is less than 100 mg/dL. As long as the level is below 160 mg/dL is considered acceptable. Above 160 mg/dL is high cholesterol and increases your risk to heart disease.
Finally, the proper balance between good and bad cholesterol can often be restored and maintained by eating a balanced diet, exercising, and avoiding smoking and alcohol. There are also medicines and supplements that may help to increase HDL levels. One supplement that many people take for its potential health supporting nutrition is fish oil, which is known to be good for a healthy heart.