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Cholesterol

The cholesterol is very essential substance produced by liver, that is used in formation of many important compounds including vitamin D, biles, metabolism acids, hormone synthesis like estrogen and testosterone. The amount of cholesterol required to do its functions is produced by liver, so if food we eat also contribute the cholesterol, the excess remains in the blood stream, get stored in arteries, which in turn be reason for heart attack.

All animal products are like eggs, meat, fish, cheese, milk, and poultry contains ample amount of cholesterol since all the animals are having lever which produces cholesterol and when we eat such product, that cholesterol enters our body. So we have to take care while eating animal product.

While any vegetable or plant product does not contain cholesterol as the vegetables do not have liver, thus can be eaten plenty of them.

Types of cholesterol

  • Low density lipoprotein (LDL) also referred to as “bad cholesterol” as it increases the risk of heart disease.
  • High density lipoprotein (HDL) also referred to as “good cholesterol” as it reduces the risk of heart disease.
  • VLDL – very low density lipoproteins – this is also converted in to LDL.

How cholesterol is dangerous

How bad or good is the cholesterol, determined by the carrier which transports the cholesterol. The special carriers are required because cholesterol or other lipids does not dissolve in blood. These carriers are known as apoproteins, and when this apoproteins are connected with cholesterol, known as lipoprotein.  If the density of the lipoprotein is low, known as LDL – Low density lipoprotein, then it becomes dangerous as it affixed to the walls of arteries, and chock up them, resulting in heart disease. While the high density lipoprotein – HDL are the good guys, they work as cleaning agent and pick up the LDL  and transport them back to the lever. A third group of carrier molecules, the very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) are converted to LDL after delivering triglycerides to the muscles and adipose (fat) tissue.

Lets know the function and dangers in detail, liver produces cholesterol as per requirement of the cells, and the cell absorbs the cholesterol for its functions, as the cell is saturated, it reduces its LDL receptors. So if the cholesterol or saturated fat is enter in the body via food, it increases the cholesterol in the bloodstream, and the excess LDL and fat sticks to wall of the arteries and damage them, to remove such plaque, the white blood cells come into the picture, unfortunately they cannot remove the lipoprotein, in addition they do more damage, this cycle goes on and trigger more white blood cells. Eventually, the artery becomes inflamed. The cholesterol plaque causes the muscle cells to enlarge and form a hard cover over the affected area. This hard cover is what causes a narrowing of the artery, reduces the blood flow and increases blood pressure. Such blocked arteries are responsible for stroke or heart attack.

The levels of HDL, LDL and total cholesterol are all indicators for atherosclerosis and heart attack risk. People who have a cholesterol level of 275 or greater (200 or less is desirable) are at significant risk for a heart attack, despite a favorable HDL level. In addition, people who have normal cholesterol levels but low HDL levels are also at increased risk for a heart attack.

The levels of HDL, LDL and total cholesterol are all indicators for atherosclerosis and heart attack risk. People who have a cholesterol level of 275 or greater (200 or less is desirable) are at significant risk for a heart attack, despite a favorable HDL level. In addition, people who have normal cholesterol levels but low HDL levels are also at increased risk for a heart attack.

The table below shows the reference levels of cholesterol.

Desirable Borderline Undesirable
Total Cholesterol Below 200 200-240 Above 240
HDL Cholesterol Above 45 35-45 Below 35
LDL Cholesterol Below 130 130-160 Above 160
Total Cholesterol/HDL Below 4.5 4.5-5.5 Above 5.5
LDL/HDL Below 3 3-5 Above 5

About the author

Ami Paneri Upadhyay

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