Cholesterol - a friend or an enemy?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that every body cell contains. Most of it is synthesized by the body itself - in the liver, and another part comes from food.

Is cholesterol a friend or an enemy? 

It is a mistake to believe that cholesterol is the “enemy”. Actually, it is a kind of a "friend". It is necessary for the body to build cells, hormones of the adrenal cortex, sex hormones, synthesis of bile acids and exchange of vitamin D. And if there is not enough cholesterol, then the body simply will not be able to perform all these functions right.

Total, good and bad cholesterol

In the analysis you may find that cholesterol can be total, good and bad. Let us explain. 

Cholesterol does not dissolve in the blood, but is transmitted through the circulatory system using carrier proteins (total). When cholesterol combines to the carrier protein, 2 types of complexes are formed - low density lipoproteins (LDL) and high (HDL) density.

And here it is just worth noting that LDL is, so to speak, “bad” cholesterol, and HDL is “good”.

“Good cholesterol” keeps the heart healthy and flushes out the excess cholesterol by delivering it to the liver - the place where it is neutralized.

"Bad cholesterol" delivers cholesterol to the cells of the body, but the excess remains in the blood and can attach to the walls of the arteries.

What is the danger of an excess of cholesterol?

  1. Appearance of cholesterol plaques
  2. Constriction of the vessels 
  3. Distressed bloodstream

Heightened levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol are called hypercholesterolemia. This is one of those conditions that flow unnoticed for years until it becomes too late. And the reasons are mainly overweight, unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle, smoking, plus age and genetic predisposition.

If the excess cholesterol does not lead out and attaches to the walls of the arteries, then atherosclerosis begins to develop. Atherosclerosis is a disease of the vessels, accompanied by the deposition of cholesterol in their lumen. This leads to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques that restrict bloodstream to the brain, heart, kidneys and lower limbs. Ultimately, these plaques grow and can completely block the lumen of the vessel. Depending on the place where the vessels are affected, happen these consequences:

  • cardiac infarction - coronary arteries;
  • stroke - cerebral arteries;
  • violation of the blood supply to the lower extremities, the development of gangrene - the femoral and iliac arteries.

To keep yourself safe and take action in time, it is important to regularly check your blood cholesterol levels.

How can blood cholesterol levels be reduced?

Saturated and trans fats, which are found in fatty meats, butter and whole milk and dairy products, increase blood cholesterol levels. So with a properly balanced diet and low intake of these fats, blood cholesterol levels can be reduced. 

Replace them with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Vegetable oils (sunflower, corn, olive, rapeseed), almonds, oily fish, avocado are perfect sources of such fats. 

Of course, if your cholesterol level is significantly higher than normal, diet alone may not be enough. In this case, it is best to visit a doctor for special therapy.