What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat that the body uses for several vital activities such as making Vitamin D and certain hormones, as well as ensuring the rigidity of cell walls. It is transported in the blood to the cells and organs that need it.
Where does cholesterol come from?
There are two main sources of cholesterol:
Half is manufactured by your liver.
- The other half comes from your intestine: 1/3 comes from your food and 2/3 comes from the bile.
- The cholesterol in food is commonly found in animal fats (red meat and dairy products), in egg yolks and in organ meats (kidney, liver).
Why do we talk about good and bad cholesterol?
There are two kinds of cholesterol circulating in the blood: the LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is bad for health, and the HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol which is beneficial.
When there is an excess of LDL cholesterol, the cholesterol gets deposited on the walls of the arteries. There, it forms plaques, which narrow the artery. This can slow and even stop the flow of blood.
HDL cholesterol helps to prevent the formation of these fatty plaques and reduces the risk of artery blockage. The higher the level of HDL cholesterol in the blood, the more beneficial it is.
Is having a high cholesterol level serious?
Excess LDL cholesterol in the blood can contribute to the clogging the arteries. While plaque is forming there are no symptoms; however, the plaque can sometimes rupture, suddenly blocking the artery. This is one of the primary causes of heart attacks, strokes and peripheral vascular disease
Can high cholesterol be treated?
The first line of treating high cholesterol is limiting the consumption of foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat. If the LDL cholesterol level is not lowered enough in spite of watching your diet, a drug limiting the synthesis of cholesterol by the liver and/or its absorption by the intestine can be prescribed for you.
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