Updated: Jun 14, 2021
First of all, let’s examine what cholesterol is. A lipid (fat), produced by the live, cholesterol is vital for normal body function. Every cell in our body has cholesterol in its outer layer. You’d die without it. So let’s examine what it is and what it does in the body.
Functions of Cholesterol
It builds and maintains cell membranes (outer layer), it prevents crystallization of hydrocarbons (organic compounds which contain only carbon and hydrogen) in the membrane
It is essential for determining which molecules can pass into the cell and which cannot (cell membrane permeability)
It is involved in the production of sex hormones (androgens and estrogens)
It is essential for the production of hormones released by the adrenal glands (cortisol, corticosterone, aldosterone, and others)
It aids in the production of bile
It converts sunshine to vitamin D
t is important for the metabolism of fat soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K
It insulates nerve fibers
Types of Lipoproteins
Cholesterol is carried in the blood by molecules called lipoproteins. A lipoprotein is any complex or compound containing both lipid (fat) and protein. The three main types are:
LDL (low density lipoprotein) – people often refer to it as bad cholesterol. LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to cells. If too much is carried for the cells to use, there can be a harmful buildup of LDL. This lipoprotein can increase the risk of arterial disease if levels rise too high. Most human blood contains approximately 70% LDL – this may vary, depending on the person.
HDL (high density lipoprotein) – people often refer to it as good cholesterol. Experts say HDL prevents arterial disease. HDL does the opposite of LDL – HDL takes the cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver. In the liver it is either broken down or expelled from the body as waste.
Triglycerides – these are the chemical forms in which most fat exists in the body, as well as in food. They are present in blood plasma. Triglycerides, in association with cholesterol, form the plasma lipids (blood fat). Triglycerides in plasma originate either from fats in our food, or are made in the body from other energy sources, such as carbohydrates. Calories we consume, but not used immediately by our tissues, are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells. When your body needs energy and there is no food as an energy source, triglycerides will be released from fat cells and used as energy – hormones control this process.
Dangers of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol levels can cause:
Atherosclerosis – narrowing of the arteries.
Higher coronary heart disease risk – an abnormality of the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart.
Heart attack – occurs when the supply of blood and oxygen to an area of heart muscle is blocked, usually by a clot in a coronary artery. This causes your heart muscle to die.
Angina – chest pain or discomfort that occurs when your heart muscle does not get enough blood.
Other cardiovascular conditions – diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
Stroke and mini-stroke – occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or vein, interrupting the flow to an area of the brain. Can also occur when a blood vessel breaks. Brain cells begin to die.
You cannot live without cholesterol. You need it. Key parts of your body need it, as you read above. What is called high cholesterol is actually just an inability of the body to break down the fats and food particles. This is also known as a deficiency and what is needed is an emulsifier – nature’s own emulsifier – lecithin. For more about lecithin, click here.
Nothing in this article or e-mail is meant to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure any medical condition. This email and all the information in it is not a substitution for medical care provided by a licensed medical doctor.