We all have cholesterol in our blood. In fact, it’s a good thing for our bodies. What is not good is the presence of high levels of cholesterol. Let us look further at the risks, causes, fun facts, and just cholesterol in general.
What is Cholesterol?
It is a waxy like substance produced primarily by the liver and a minimal amount of the same by the lining of the small intestine. Cholesterol at standard levels is good because it helps in cell membrane maintenance and the production of certain hormones like progesterone, testosterone, estradiol, and cortisol. It further helps in the digestive system by producing bile salts which assist in the process of breaking down food. Its final role is to convert to vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. The bad cholesterol comes from some of the foods that we consume.
Cholesterol, in general, is not soluble in water and doesn’t mix readily with the blood. The liver bundles it with protein and forms a lipoprotein before letting it go into the bloodstream. There are three types of lipoprotein. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – the good cholesterol, Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – the bad cholesterol and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). The type of lipoprotein is determined by the protein to fat ratio.
Some cholesterol related facts.
- Cholesterol is a part of our body, always has been from the day we were born. Primarily the reason why we cannot live without it.
- One in every three adults has high cholesterol.
- The presence of high cholesterol in the body is possible genetic.
- Children have cholesterol too.
- Sweating can increase good cholesterol levels in the body.
- Supplements work but at snail pace.
What causes high cholesterol?
Consuming food that is rich in trans fat, saturated fat and cholesterol can cause high cholesterol. Saturated fat is present in foods like meat, whole milk, egg yolks, butter, and cheese whereas trans fat is found packaged foods like cookies, chips, and crackers. Fried food also falls into this category.
Weight plays a role as being over your ideal weight may increase the formation of triglycerides and reduce HDL.
Triglycerides? It is the chemical form of the fat that exists in your body. When the calories in our meal are not consumed by our tissues right away, they get converted to triglycerides.
If you aren’t exercising daily, you should.
Lack of exercise or any form of physical activity reduces the amount of HDL.
Diseases like hypothyroidism, chronic kidney disease, and some types of liver diseases contribute to an increase in the level of cholesterol.
Chances are if your family has a history of heart disease, you may have it as well.
Smoking too reduces levels of HDL cholesterol.
Certain medicines increase levels of triglyceride and reduce that of the good HDL. They are thiazide diuretics, beta-blockers, estrogen, and corticosteroids.
High cholesterol can lead to accumulation of plaque in your arteries. The causes mentioned above can increase the risk of heart disease.
To prevent any disease caused by high cholesterol change your diet to eating heart-healthy foods, exercise daily, and say no to smoking. In a way, change your lifestyle. It will only benefit you in the long-run.
Go on and live a healthy life!