What is Cholesterol?
Any Basic coverage of Cholesterol must start with a clear definition, so here goes. Cholesterol is from the ancient Greek, Chole- and Stereos. Then there is the -ol on the end, which indicates an alcohol.
Cholesterol is a naturally produced waxy substance which is produced by the liver and is also found in red meat, high fat cheese, butter , eggs and other natural foods.
Cholesterol is essential for good health and plays an important role in how every cell in the body works, is needed for the body to make Vitamin D (along with sunlight exposure), is used to make some hormones and bile, for digestion.
In short, in moderation, Cholesterol is your friend.
Too much cholesterol in the blood however, is where the problems start.
Raised Cholesterol is a common problem and a risk factor in the development of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD).
The Good, The Bad and the bits inbetween.
When Cholesterol is in the blood it is carried by proteins called lipoproteins. There are lots of different variations of this lipoprotein but the main two are High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) and Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL).
It is this LDL that is also referred to as BAD CHOLESTEROL because too much is deemed unhealthy, it can stick to artery walls and a build up of this kind can lead to plaque build and arterial blockages.
HDL on the other hand is is usually referred to as Good Cholesterol as it has a protective role to play in the body.
HDL helps remove excess cholesterol from the body and pass it to the liver for breakdown and excretion.
So what causes high cholesterol and how can you avoid it?
Basically a high body cholesterol is caused by an unhealthy diet and lifestyle.
Those last two points about large waist and being obese are worth taking a longer look at.
Without going into any real detail here, our genes are affected by what we eat and this can change the way certain genes are expressed. Being overweight may actually “turn on” the genes that increase cholesterol levels.
5 Secondary things that affect the Good:Bad cholesterol ratio
- Type 2 diabetes
- Underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroid)
- Kidney problems
- Liver problems
- Alcohol intake (Excessive)
The above mentioned medical conditions as well as some medicines can affect Cholesterol levels as well as blood triglyceride levels. If you have any issues that you suspect to be caused by any of the above, you should consult your GP.
How do you know if you have high cholesterol ?High Cholesterol is not called the silent killer for nothing. For most people there are no obvious signs or symptoms that would indicate a problem Click To Tweet
4 initial signs of high cholesterol
- Angina – This is caused by narrowing of one of the arteries that feed the heart.
- Heart Attack – This is caused by a blockage to one of the arteries that feed the heart.
- Stroke – This is caused by a blockage in any one of the arteries in the neck or brain.
- Pain on Walking – This is caused by a blockage in an artery the feed blood to the leg muscle.
All four of the above are signs of already established circulatory issues and disease.
You are more likely to have high cholesterol if:
- You have a parent, sibling or child with high cholesterol.
- A parent or sibling had a heart attack before the age of 50 for men or 60 for women.
- You are a type 2 diabetic
- You have a diet excessively high in saturated/animal fat.
- You are physically inactive
- There are fatty deposits in your eyelids or you have a white ring around the iris of the eye.
It’s not all doom and gloom though.
By making dietary changes and significantly improving the way you eat, you can have modestly reduced blood cholesterol levels in as little as 3 to 4 weeks. Click To Tweet
You will need to stick to the new dietary changes though as it has been shown that can take 3 – 6 months to successfully and permanently establish new dietary habits.
So there you go, Cholesterol in brief. At a later date I will be looking at summarising the ways to reduce Cholesterol.
If you found this interesting and of use, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think, If there is anything you want to add, let me know as it is always great to hear from you.
Till next time I wish you
good health and happiness.