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Is High Cholesterol Bad For You?

Cholesterol is a fatty and wax-like substance that belongs to the steroids class of lipids. It is present in all the body cells and is synthesized mainly in the liver.



One in two Filipino adults faces borderline to high-cholesterol levels, with 46.9 percent Filipinos aged 20 and above at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. ... “The Filipino diet is skewed more toward meat,” said Agdeppa, who cited the high content of saturated fat in red meat solidifies and blocks the arteries.

It can also be taken from the food; in fact, most of the excess fats are the result of some diets. I call it a double-edged sword since it is both-our friend and enemy.

It is essentially required for some of the crucial body functions and at the same time, it can evoke a heart attack when present in abnormally increased quantities. It is an important factor in estimating the risk of stroke or heart attack in an individual.




Types of Cholesterol:

Since cholesterol is a subclass of lipids so it does not dissolve in the blood, which is water mainly. This oil-based substance attaches to certain proteins and then this complex gets circulated in the blood. This cholesterol and protein combination is termed as lipoprotein.


The types of lipoproteins are based on the percentage of proteins and fat in the combination.


The cholesterol carrying proteins are:

Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs): Low-density lipoproteins are known as ‘bad cholesterol’ owing to their tendency of causing plaque on the arteries, thereby increasing the risk of stroke and heart attack.

High-density lipoproteins (HDLs): The cholesterol attached to these proteins is not harmful to the body so this form of cholesterol is considered as ‘good cholesterol’. It helps to reduce the LDLs hence its good for you to have a higher level of HDL.

Very low-density lipoproteins (VLDLs): This kind is almost similar to low-density lipoproteins and is high in lipid content.

Triglycerides: This is the storage form of cholesterol. Alcohol, sugar, and excess calories are converted into triglycerides and are stored in cells.




The good aspects of cholesterol:

As I said earlier, cholesterol is essential to living. It is the modulator of many important metabolic reactions. Cholesterol is so important that we cannot survive without its normal amounts.

The major functions of cholesterol in our body are:

Cell membrane integrity:

Cholesterol produces and maintains the cell membrane, which is crucial for life to sustain. Any kind of damage to cell membrane integrity leads to serious consequences and cholesterol provides a stable structure to the cell membrane. This is the most important function that allows the cell substances to remain in their limited locations.

Vitamin D production:

Cholesterol acts parent substances and helps the body produce vitamin D with the exposure of sunlight or ultraviolet rays.

Bile production:

Cholesterol makes the bile salts that help in digestion and absorption. Hormones production: Cholesterol acts as a source compound enabling the body to reduce certain steroidal hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, progesterone and aldosterone.


The bad Aspects of Cholesterol:

The presence of unhealthy levels of LDL or total cholesterol has a devastating effect on the cardiovascular system. It gets accumulated in arteries and clogs them leading to life-threatening events like heart attack and stroke. The process of hardening of arteries due to cholesterol accumulation is known as atherosclerosis that is a big risk for angina, heart attack, and stroke. Higher than normal levels of cholesterol also harm the brain and may culminate in dementia and memory loss.


What are normal body cholesterol levels?

It is recommended that everyone gets their cholesterol checked every fifth year after the age of 20 years. Since high cholesterol does not produce any symptoms, so it is a silent killer. The only way to determine the cholesterol level is by getting is analyzed from time to time.

There are fasting and non-fasting tests to determine the levels of different types of cholesterol. A non-fasting test measures the total cholesterol and HDL while a fasting test will measure the LDL, HDL, triglycerides and total cholesterol. The following are the quantities that are used to determine the normality of cholesterol and the risk of heart attack.


Factors affecting cholesterol level:

There are a number of factors that can fluctuate the amount of cholesterol in the body. Some of the factors affect the synthesis of cholesterol while others take part in the process of its utilization. Below is a list of main factors that are important in determining cholesterol levels in a person.


Genetics:

Hereditary factors are important as a person may have inherited the high cholesterol genes from his/her parents. Hence, the problem of high cholesterol can run in families.

Age:

Cholesterol increases with the increasing age.

Gender:

Gender is not very important; however, it is seen that women can have increased levels of LDL after menopause as compared to men of the same age.

Diet:

Taking high amounts of saturated fats and high cholesterol foods regularly can increase cholesterol. We will be describing the details of the cholesterol diet in the subsequent chapters.

Exercise:

Active people have minimum chances of having abnormal cholesterol levels as they consume it better. Regular exercise can decrease the HDL and LDL too.

Medical Conditions:

There are certain medical conditions that can cause high cholesterol in body. Diabetes is the most important owing to its frequency. Poorly controlled diabetes disturbs the metabolism and you may get an elevated cholesterol level.



From the above discussion, it can be concluded that cholesterol itself is not a bad entity and normal levels of cholesterol are required by body to maintain its vital functions. Balance is the key here and we should try to attain a near-perfect balance in body cholesterol by controlling our diet and doing regular exercise. Even if someone has got higher cholesterol at the moment, it is a modifiable factor and can be controlled by doing a little effort. It’s worth trying, after all we all get a single life, so we should value it.


References:

https://medlineplus.gov/cholesterol.html

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/cholesterol

https://medlineplus.gov/cholesterollevelswhatyouneedtoknow.html

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2087735-overview




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