Health Female Adda
6 months ago
Why does your body need cholesterol?

Cholesterol is the waxy odourless substance that is produced by the liver in the body. Though most of us think of cholesterol negatively, according to Carlyne Remedios – Group Manager — Clinical Practices, Nutrition & Product Development, Digestive Health Institute by Dr.Muffi, it is essential for various bodily functions, such as synthesis of hormones such as progesterone estrogen, testosterone and cortisol and it aids in the synthesis of vitamin D by helping the liver to produce bile salts it aids in the digestion of fats, and finally, it’s the structural component of each and every cell in the body.

To understand the role of cholesterol better, first let us understand how cholesterol moves around the body: Cholesterol is insoluble in blood and is transported to and fro from the cells via Lipoproteins. The 2 major lipoproteins are Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol and High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) or Good cholesterol. The major carrier of cholesterol in the blood is LDL. Too much circulation of LDL cholesterol in the blood can gradually clog the arteries that lead to the brain and heart. HDL cholesterol carries about 1/3rd of the blood cholesterol. HDL carries cholesterol away from the brain and heart and back to the liver, where it is metabolized.
Cholesterol is necessary for fat digestion: Cholesterol is used to help the liver create bile, which aids us in digesting the food that we eat. Without the bile our bodies are unable to properly digest foods, especially fats. When the fat goes undigested it can get into the bloodstream and cause additional problems such as blockages of the arteries and cause heart attacks and heart disease.

Cholesterol is in fact the building blocks of our existence: Cholesterol is a structural component of cells. This semi — permeable membrane of the cells are responsible for in flow of oxygen and nutrients and elimination of toxic elements and hence cholesterol is vital for proper functioning of the cells. Cholesterol is there to basically provide a protective barrier, the change in the rate of cholesterol directly affects the body’s ability and efficiency of metabolism. This can ultimately affect other aspects of our bodies’ function such as food intake and digestion.
But yes, you need cholesterol, and not saturated fats: Saturated fats when consumed increase the levels of LDL in your blood, which is the bad cholesterol that can gradually clog up the arteries leading to your brain and heart. Increase in LDL causes a decrease in HDL levels, the good cholesterol that transports the cholesterol away from the arteries of the brain and heart to be metabolized in your liver. High LDL levels and low HDL levels increases the risk of heart disease and cancers.

What roles do genes play here? The answer isn’t as simple as yes or no. Medical studies have shown that cholesterol levels in the body are influenced more by the person’s genetic makeup rather than their diet. However, each person’s body responds to cholesterol differently and some people might be more vulnerable to diet cholesterol than others. Persons that have existing health conditions like diabetes, heart problems should avoid consuming cholesterol rich foods.

Safe and healthy blood cholesterol levels:
Total Cholesterol 200 mg /dL or less Optimal
Total Cholesterol 200 -239 mg/dL Borderline high
Total Cholesterol 240 mg/dL above High

Ideally, LDL levels should be less than 100 mg/dL. Levels of 100 to 129 mg/dL may be a concern for those with heart risk factors. Any reading between 160 to 189 mg/dL is high. If your LDL levels are 190 mg/dL or higher, it is considered very high.

HDL levels should be kept higher. Any reading less than 40 mg/dL can lead to heart diseases. It is considered borderline low when you have a reading between 41 mg/dL to 59 mg/dL. The optimum for HDL levels is 60 mg/dL or more.

Image source: Shutterstock

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