Cholesterol is often a topic of discussion among people who have fitness and weight loss ambitions. However, hardly anyone has a decent clear idea about cholesterol.
Today, in this post we will give you a brief account of this so familiar yet alien entity.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a soft substance found in our blood.
Cholesterol is used primarily to synthesize cell membranes, hormones, and also to assist in the performance of other bodily functions.
Good Cholesterol And Bad Cholesterol
Cholesterol is so notorious that people have labelled it as ‘evil.’ But we are here to remind that all substances in the body have a particular function and only variants or excess of these substances are harmful to us.
Cholesterol comes in two varieties –
1. Good Cholesterol
Technically called as HDL (High Density Lipoprotein), HDL’s function is to carry the bad cholesterol away from the heart and deliver it to the liver where the process of excretion of ‘bad’ cholesterol takes place.
2. Bad Cholesterol
LDL or Low Density Lipoprotein is the villainous ‘bad’ cholesterol. It builds up on the side walls of the arteries, obstructing blood supply towards the heart.
Risk of heart attacks and strokes is directly proportional to the amounts of LDL that accumulates in the arteries blocking the blood pipes.
Triglyceride is not exactly a type of cholesterol, but you can call it a fairly close cousin of cholesterol.
Present in the blood and commonly classified as a lipid or fat, triglycerides are calories that were not used and hence converted in triglycerides. If you eat more calories than you burn, you are said to have hypertriglyceridemia.
Triglycerides are commonly associated with cholesterol since high triglycerides in the body often correspond to elevated cholesterol levels.
So next time you talk about cholesterol, do not forget about triglycerides.
Since we now know about the three characters (HDL, LDL, Triglycerides) of the cholesterol story, let’s see how they interact.
The Cholesterol Story
HDL and LDL are naturally produced by the body in quantities dependent on our daily diets.
As mentioned earlier, LDL is the villain of our story since it piles up in the arteries thereby obstructing the blood flow. When this condition worsens, it results into an illness called ‘artherosclerosis.’
Now coming to the hero, HDL. HDL does what the typical hero does – fight the villain. HDL kills the villains and buries them in to liver. Then the liver does its job of excreting out the LDL along with other toxic waste via urine.
Triglycerides are basically bad for your body.
According to the American Heart Association, people having high triglycerides levels often have a high total cholesterol level (that is, high LDL levels and low HDL levels).
LDL cholesterol is also capable of having a genetic mutation termed Lp(a) cholesterol. Lp(a) is a significant risk factor for premature deposition of fatty substances in the arteries.
Where does Cholesterol come from?
Where most things in your body come from. Your Diet.
They say, rightly so, ‘you are what you eat.’ Eat junk and you are junk. Eat healthy and you are healthy.
If the following characterise your diet and lifestyle, your cholesterol levels are bound to be high –
- Diet consisting of alarming amounts of saturated fats.
- Being physically passive.
- Being overweight.
Apart from these a large waist circumference almost guarantees high cholesterol levels.
Kidney related diseases, diabetes, thyroid problems, liver diseases and a high alcohol intake are some other sure shot ways of attaining high cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol levels have a tendency to rise as age increases, this is why elder people are more vulnerable to heart problems than adolescents or young adults.
Cholesterol levels of women increases after they attain menopause.
The tendency to have high cholesterol may also be inherited in some cases.
Reducing Cholesterol Levels
The following will help you to reduce and keep in control your cholesterol levels –
- Eating veggies and fruits and avoiding foods that have high saturated fat content.
- Giving up smoking and drinking.
- Losing Weight.
These are the ways to avoid high cholesterol or any disease for that matter.
All the information above makes up the cholesterol basics and now you know what you are talking about when you participate in a discussion about cholesterol.