What is cholesterol?

When it comes to cholesterol, you may only be hearing half-truths. In fact, a lot of medical experts believe that the misconceptions of cholesterol come from the advertising strategies of pharmaceutical companies. To make ensure that they earn from their products, they have to prove something as bad. In truth, cholesterol is not all bad. It’s what you do that can really make it deadly.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is the fat-like substance that your body, specifically your liver, produces. You can also find this in the blood of any animal. It is not a toxin that you need to flush out of your body. It serves a very good role and is considered to be very vital in animal function. For example, animals need it so that their membranes will remain fluid and permeable.

Humans, on the other hand, will find a variety of benefits from cholesterol. For one, it helps maintain the overall condition of the cell membranes. It acts as a protective shield for the nerve fibres. It will also ensure that the cells will be protected from the temperature changes happening within and outside your body. Cholesterol is also responsible for the development of sex hormones for both males and females. Moreover, it aids in digestion as it assists in producing bile salts. You can also give credit to cholesterol for converting sunlight to an essential vitamin: Vitamin D.

How does it become dangerous?

We are only talking about one way of getting cholesterol. There’s another. You can also get cholesterol from the food that you eat. As mentioned, animals that you consume such as meat and poultry do have cholesterol. They can also come from dairy products and even sea foods. The American Heart Association has also set a daily cholesterol requirement at below 300 milligrams. If you go beyond that, you’re putting yourself at risk.

Now there’s a tendency that you can consume high-level cholesterol and still not be at risk. This could be because your body produces less. However, today, an American man already eat as much as 360 milligrams of it, not to mention that amount of cholesterol produced by the body. Simply put, you are already on the brink of developing the aftereffects of high cholesterol.

One of the common effects of high cholesterol is atherosclerosis. This happens when there is a buildup of plaque in the blood vessels and arteries. It is normally caused by white blood cells but will be further aggravated by low-density lipoproteins, which carry cholesterol that doesn’t get flushed off. Simply put, it remains in the vessels until it starts to harden. As you accumulate these lipoproteins, they will then occupy whatever remaining space is available, blocking the proper flow of blood. The heart will also need to work a lot harder just to improve blood circulation. In the end, you will suffer from myocardial infarction and other heart diseases.

You can, however, prevent that from happening. All it needs is a change in lifestyle. Depending on your current cholesterol level, you may have to cut back or completely eliminate animal sources in your diet.

EGGS image by © Robert Lerich | Dreamstime.com