Dangers Of Cholesterol
People are still unaware of the dangers of having elevated levels. Elevated levels are one of the risk factors for heart disease, strokes, and peripheral artery disease. However, It isn’t all bad as it is a vital part of our diet.
What Is it?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is insoluble to water like oil. It is a type of fat that is made up of four interlocked rings of carbon called a steroid. We know steroids from watching sports, but not all steroids are responsible for building our muscles. A steroid is simply a fat with a specific chemical structure, and that chemical structure allows the fat to do its job. It is found in every single cell of our body.
What Is The Purpose Of It?
Cholesterol has a bad reputation, but it is essential to our diets. It acts as the precursor for other steroids in our body. When we eat it, we break it down and then use its parts to make things like testosterone and oestrogen. It also acts as a precursor for vitamin D. I know what you’re thinking…’Wait, don’t I get vitamin D from standing out in the sun?’ Yep, you do, but your body can’t make vitamin D out of thin air. It uses sunlight to start a cascade of chemical reactions that break it down and use the parts to make the vitamin. Without it, you could stand out in the sun all day and still not make enough vitamin D for your body.
Cholesterol is also an important component of our cell membranes. It makes sure our cellular membranes work the way they should. It acts like a patch, keeping very tiny molecules from going in and out of our cells when they’re not supposed to. It also keeps the cell membrane nice and flexible, which allows our cells to do what they need to do. Without it, our cell membranes would be too stiff to form tissues like skin and muscle and would be leaking molecules like mad. That would be a very bad way to start the day!
Low-density lipoproteins (or LDL cholesterol) are the “bad” type. LDL cholesterol can build up in arteries and help the formation of plaques, or hard blockages that can create clogs in the bloodstream.
High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are the “good” type – not only because they don’t clog arteries, but because they also help remove LDL cholesterol from the arteries. These LDL cholesterol’s are generally carried back to the liver, where they’re processed and removed. Low levels of HDL cholesterol have been connected to heart disease, and vice versa.