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What is cholesterol?

(February 18, 2011)

After a blood test and the subsequent results, your doctor may warn you about your cholesterol levels. So what is cholesterol? Cholesterol is a lipid (fat) that is produced by the liver and it is essential for the body to function normally. It is a waxy, fat like substance that forms part of every cell in the body. It serves many important functions in the body.

Now that we know what is cholesterol, let us look at some of the health advantages of cholesterol:-

• It makes Vitamin D ( converts sunshine into Vitamin D)
• It prevents crystallization of hydrocarbons in the membrane
• It plays a role in the production of androgens and estrogens (sex hormones).
• It insulates nerve fibers.
• It makes bile acids which help in the digestion of fat.
• It maintains healthy cells walls.

• It is involved in cell membrane permeability.

The answer to the question “what is cholesterol” does not end there. There are two main types of cholesterol levels in the blood. They are:-

• LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein): This is also known as bad cholesterol as it transports fatty deposits to the tissues. This encourages a build up of fat on the artery walls.
• HDL (High Density Lipoprotein): This is known as good cholesterol as it reduces the risk of heart disease and helps to clear the LDL out of the blood. HDD is the answer to what is good cholesterol.

Normal cholesterol levels range from 3.6mmol/liter to 7.8mmol/liter. So what is high cholesterol? High cholesterol range is any reading that is higher than 6mmol/liter or 240 mg/dL and above.  It is necessary to keep healthy cholesterol levels as high levels could lead to problems like:-

• Heart attacks.
• Strokes or mini strokes.
• Angina
• Diseases of the heart
• Narrowing of the arteries (Atherosclerosis)
• Risk of higher coronary heart disease

If you are wondering how to reduce your cholesterol levels without medication, opt for a change in lifestyle. If you still wonder how to reduce cholesterol level, medication can help to bring high cholesterol levels under control.  The next question this brings to mind is “what is a good cholesterol ratio?” A good cholesterol ratio is one where the HDL and LDL levels are in proportion. The other type of ratio that must be taken into account is the ration of LDL to HDL. A high HDL cholesterol level and a low LDL level indicate that there is a good balance of cholesterol and triglycerides in the body.

Submitted by S M on February 18, 2011 at 12:54


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