What is Cholesterol? Many people think that cholesterol is bad for the human body. But it isn’t all bad. Cholesterol is a fatty lipid, steroid and an alcohol found in the body tissues and blood plasma of vertebrates. It is the essential part of the outer membranes of human body cells and required to establish proper membrane permeability and fluidity.
Liver and other cell produce 75% of blood cholesterol and rest of the 25% comes from the food we eat. It helps the body to build new cells, as well as produce hormones and insulate nerves.
Cholesterol and our other body fats cannot dissolve in our blood. They must be transported by special carriers called lipoproteins. While there are numerous kinds but the two that are most important are the high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and the low-density lipoproteins (LDL). There is a third kind, which is referred to as Lp(a), which can increase one’s risk of heart attack and stroke. Here you can read about the cholesterol level and related terms:
By cholesterol level you can see how much your heart is healthy. You can get these numbers by getting your cholesterol tested. There are actually five different ways that you can use in order to get a complete reading on your own cholesterol levels and they are: total cholesterol levels, HDL, LDL, total/HDL ratio, LDL/HDL ratio.
Your overall desired level should be below 200 mg/dL, 200 to 240 for a borderline level and total risk above level 240.
High-density lipoprotein or HDL is considered the good cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is important for the body to have as this type of cholesterol helps filter out LDL cholesterol from the lining of the arteries, as well as transporting fat in the bloodstream (triglycerides) to the liver so that it can be broken down and excreted from the body.
HDL seems to remove excess cholesterol from the plaques which build up in one’s blood vessels, thereby inhibiting or slowing their growth. This is what makes it so important to the human body. Approximately 1/3 to 1/4 of the cholesterol in our bodies is passed by the HDL. Therefore increasing the HDL cholesterol may lower the risk of heart diseases.
Low-Density Lipoprotein is considered as bad cholesterol because LDL collects in the blood vessels and can clog arteries. Higher LDL means a higher risk of heart attack. It is called low-density because it tends to be less dense than other kinds of cholesterol particles.
LDL is not bad itself but when combined with other substances, it forms plaques. Plaques are hard, thick coatings that can clog one’s arteries and decrease blood flow to the heart or the brain. When this occurs in the arteries leading to the heart, one is at greater risk of a heart attack.
If one’s LDL level is 160 mg/dL or higher, this is an indication of a greater risk of heart disease. And if one has already been diagnosed with heart disease, it is strongly recommended that one maintain a level of less than 100 mg/dL.
Lipoprotein(a) or LP(a)
A little known (by the general population) lipoprotein that can also cause a greater risk is the Lp(a) cholesterol lipoprotein. This is a generic variation of plasma (the “fluid” which carries the blood cells through one’s bloodstream) LDL. When Lp(a) level is higher, one can more quickly develop the plaque buildup and this situation is known as atherosclerosis.
You already know that the human body is capable of producing the (1000 mg per day) cholesterol that one needs to remain healthy. And the cholesterol we consume is not really necessary to maintain the healthy level. We consume most of the cholesterol in the form of transfats and saturated fats. Heart specialist recommends 300mg or less than fats daily. So by selecting perfect diet plan and adopt a regular exercise program, you can reduce the risk of high cholesterol and get a healthy heart.