Cholesterol is not a necessary evil but an essential healthy substance vital for the well-being of a person. Humans are smarties and most of us have a great reputation in people management and are clever enough to get things done without hurting people’s feelings. Its time to apply the same management skills to our health too the only difference being that we focus on nutrient management. Cholesterol remains a tricky substance that causes good or bad effects depending on the way it is handled. Repeatedly we are advised to avoid cholesterol-rich foods but actual fact remains that only 20% of cholesterol in the bloodstream comes from the food that we eat. So, what’s the need for all this hoopla and hype?
Your Body’s Baby
Often every individual, fat or thin, obese or underweight, is advised to go for a blood test to check for cholesterol levels. Though cholesterol is measured via our blood the fact remains that it is found in every cell in our body. Before we go into the details of cholesterol production lets first clearly understand what cholesterol is. Cholesterol is a waxy substance needed by the body as a building block for cells. It remains essential for vitamin D production, secretion of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen and bile acids. So critical is it for our body’s functioning that almost 80% production happens in the liver and only the remaining 20% is obtained from the food that we eat. So, food and the liver exist as the two sources of cholesterol. Foods high in cholesterol such as meat and full-fat dairy are the ones that contribute towards your saturated and trans fat levels too. Find other common cholesterol-rich foods listed at www.firsteatright.com that are loved by us and commonly consumed despite their unhealthy nature. When an individual consumes such foods, the liver is forced to produce more cholesterol than it normally would. Such increase in production increases unhealthy cholesterol levels in such individuals. For instance, when you consume some food that provides you with 200-300 mg of cholesterol per day the liver produces an additional 800 mg per day. The proportion of cholesterol therefore depends on the portion of high-cholesterol food that enters your body.
Cholesterol (a fat) moves around the body but is of no use when it travels alone. To maximize cholesterol’s value the body packs cholesterol with other fats into spherical protein-rich particles called lipoproteins (lipids+proteins). These particles aid in the movement of cholesterol throughout the body. Lipoproteins are mainly classified into low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
LDL & HDL:LDL are also called as bad cholesterol as these contain pure cholesterol that are sent to tissues all over the body and also induce the formation of artery-clogging plaque. HDL are also known as good cholesterol as they safely remove excess cholesterol and send it back to the liver for excretion. This LDL cholesterol combines with other substances to form hard deposits on the inside of the arteries. This narrows the artery and results in atherosclerosis which have the ability to lead to heart attack or strokes.
Cholesterol’s Journey through the Body
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.