Cholesterol is a fatty waxlike substance made in the human and animal bodies from saturated fats i.e. saturated fatty acids in food. Cholesterol is present in the form of lipoproteins which are fat transporting molecules covered with protein. Lipoproteins have different function in our body depending upon the proportion of protein and fats (triglycerides, cholesterol and phospholipids) that they contain.
Lipoproteins are classified into 2 categories
Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) & High-density lipoproteins (HDL)
LDL cholesterol is known as bad cholesterol because it has higher proportion of fats than protein, and since fats are lighter in weight, LDL is lighter with low density. It helps in transportation of fats from food, from liver to all the body cells. These fats are downloaded into body cells as per their needs.
Cholesterol gets a bad reputation due to its LDL levels , as it gets stuck to the artery walls and high levels of LDL cholesterol increases the chances of heart attacks, blockages etc.
On the other hand HDL cholesterol is known as the good cholesterol as it has higher proportions of proteins than fat. Since proteins are heavier in weight , HDL has higher density. HDL cholesterol transports unused fats and cholesterol from the body cells back tot the liver and then thrown out of our body by the means of feces and bile.
Therefore it is important to have a high HDL levels as it helps reducing cholesterol from blood and reducing deposits on artery walls which reduced chances of getting a heart attack and blockages.
Functions of cholesterol
- Making sex hormones i.e. testosterones and estrogen
- Synthesize vitamin D and metabolism of vit A,E and K
- It builds cell membranes and prevents crystallization of hydrocarbons in membrane
- Production of adrenal gland hormones(cortisol,corticosterone,aldosterone)
- Insulating nerve fibre
NORMAL/TARGET CHOLESTROL LEVELS IN BLOOD
- Total cholesterol(LDL+HDL) < 180-200 mg/100ml
- LDL cholesterol <30mg/100ml
- HDL cholesterol >35/40mg/100ml
NOTE:- it should be noted than only animal sources of foods contain cholesterol. Plant food sources don’t. Therefore should be restricted according to the relative individuals and health risks.
To reduce high cholesterol levels following steps should be taken
- limiting animal products
- Intake of omega 3 (good fats) from flax seeds and fish oil
- Limited intake of MUFA oils than other cooking oils
- Improving blood circulation through cardiovascular workouts like brisk walking, cycling, swimming etc
- Increasing metabolism through regular exercise and optimal protein intake(plant sources are a great source of protein without cholesterol intake)
IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAN CHOLESTEROL IS MANUFACTURED BY OUR BODIES AND ARE NOT NEEDED TO BE SUPPLEMENTED.