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What Role Does Cholesterol Play In The Body

The Role Of Dietary Fats And Cholesterol In Heart Health

What Role does Cholesterol Play in a Healthy Body?

Its time to demystify dietary fats and explain their impact on risk factors for heart disease and other health problems. Youll learn about the various types of fatas well as some basics about cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglyceridesthen find out how the Atkins can be a powerful agent in preventing heart disease.

Do I Need Treatment For High Cholesterol

including whether you are also diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.Ã Many health care providers recommend treating anyone with CVD with high-dose statin therapy. This includes those with coronary heart disease and who have had a stroke.

For those who do not have CVD, treatment is determined by your individual risk for developing heart disease. Ã That risk can be estimated using calculators which factor your age, sex, medical history, and other characteristics.Ã If your risk is high , your doctor may start you on treatment preventively. They generally keep in mind your preferences towards taking medication in generalFor those people whose risk is unclear, a coronary artery calcium score, which is a screening test looking for calcium in the arteries, can help determine the need for statins.

For both those who have CVD and those who do not, when the decision is made to start medication, the first choice is usually a statin.

Other special groups who may need treatment:

  • People with high triglyceride levels may benefit if they have other risk factors
  • People with diabetes: are at high risk, and a ldl under 100 is recommended for most
  • Older adults: a healthy, active older adult may benefit from the reduction you need, and be prescribed a medication accordingly.

Difference Between Good Cholesterol And Bad Cholesterol

When talking about cholesterol, two main types of cholesterol often comes up good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein , which is good cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein , which is bad cholesterol. Cholesterol moves in the body with the help of lipoproteins .

HDL helps in getting rid of the cholesterol from the body. It transports it to the liver to be expelled out so that theres no excess cholesterol in the body and none of it gets collected in the arteries. And hence, HDL is called good cholesterol.

On the other hand, LDL takes cholesterol to your arteries. Too much cholesterol in arteries can lead to a buildup of plaque which can block your arteries in your heart and brain and you may suffer from a heart attack or stroke. Plaque buildup can also reduce the flow of oxygen to various organs which also becomes the cause for many diseases.

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Why Do We Need Cholesterol

Cholesterol plays a vital role in how your body works. There is cholesterol in every cell in your body, and it’s especially important in your brain, nerves and skin.

Cholesterol has three main jobs:

  • Its part of the outer layer, or membrane, of all your bodys cells
  • Its used to make vitamin D and steroid hormones which keep your bones, teeth and muscles healthy
  • Its used to make bile, which helps to digest the fats you eat

Checking Your Blood Cholesterol Level

High cholesterol: what it means, what causes it and how to ...

A cholesterol screening is an overall look at the fats in your blood. Screenings help identify your risk for heart disease. It is important to have what is called a full lipid profile to show the actual levels of each type of fat in your blood: LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and others. Talk with your healthcare provider about when to have this test.

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Introduction To Cholesterol Metabolism

Cholesterol is an extremely important biological molecule that has roles in membrane structure as well as being a precursor for the synthesis of the steroid hormones, the bile acids, and vitamin D. Both dietary cholesterol, and that synthesized de novo, are transported through the circulation in lipoprotein particles. The same is true of cholesteryl esters, the form in which cholesterol is stored in cells. Due to its important role in membrane function, all cells express the enzymes of cholesterol biosynthesis.

The synthesis and utilization of cholesterol must be tightly regulated in order to prevent over-accumulation and abnormal deposition within the body. Of particular clinical importance is the abnormal deposition of cholesterol and cholesterol-rich lipoproteins in the coronary arteries. Such deposition, eventually leading to atherosclerosis, is the leading contributory factor in diseases of the coronary arteries.

Structure of cholesterol

How Is It Broken Down

Once in the blood stream, some cholesterol will be returned to the liver and broken down. Its used to make bile acids which are released into the intestines to help with digestion bile acids break down the fats in food.

A small amount of bile acids will be removed from the body as a waste product in your poo. But most will be absorbed back into the blood, returned to the liver and used again for digestion.

Some treatments for high cholesterol work by stopping bile from being absorbed back into the blood. The liver has to take more cholesterol out of the blood to make more bile, lowering your cholesterol levels.

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What Can Raise My Risk Of High Cholesterol

A variety of things can raise your risk for high cholesterol:

  • Age. Your cholesterol levels tend to rise as you get older. Even though it is less common, younger people, including children and teens, can also have high cholesterol.
  • Heredity. High blood cholesterol can run in families.
  • Weight. Being overweight or having obesity raises your cholesterol level.
  • Race. Certain races may have an increased risk of high cholesterol. For example, African Americans typically have higher HDL and LDL cholesterol levels than whites.

Safe Blood Cholesterol Levels

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Health authorities recommend that cholesterol levels should be no higher than 5.5 mmol per litre if there are no other risk factors present. If there are other cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure or pre-existing cardiovascular disease, then the aim for the LDL levels would be less than 2 mmol/l. Approximately half of all adult Australians have a blood cholesterol level above 5 mmol/l. This makes high blood cholesterol a major health concern in Australia.

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Cholesterol Movement Between Membranes

Cholesterol can move between membranes by vesicular transport , by collision between two membrane surfaces, by cholesterol binding proteins, and through an intervening aqueous phase, though the latter is a minor mechanism because of the very low solubility of cholesterol in water. In the laboratory, cholesterol can also be moved in and out of membranes by incubation of the membranes with lipid vesicles, in which case some of the cholesterol is transferred to the vesicle membranes. Membranes can also be depleted of cholesterol by incubation with a synthetic polymer, methyl-β-cyclodextrin.

Studies on the kinetics of the movement of cholesterol from one membrane to another have revealed the mechanism of that movement. Several studies with small phosphatidylcholine vesicles indicated cholesterol can move between vesicles by transfer through the aqueous phase.14 Perhaps most dramatic was the observation that cholesterol could transfer between two vesicle populations separated by a membrane impermeable to the vesicles.15 The latter transfer was very slow. Transfer can be enhanced significantly by collision of donor and acceptor membranes.

It is interesting that cholesterol transfers through the aqueous phase even though the hydrophobic effect determines that the solubility of cholesterol in water is vanishingly small. Not surprisingly then agents that increase the critical micelle concentration apparently enhanced the exchange rates.16

Maryse Guerin, in, 2017

Cholesterol Is A Building Block

“Cholesterol is fat the body makes,” Dr. Mercurio explains. “Cholesterol is used to make cell membranes,” the outer surface of your body’s cells.

The human body is made up of trillions of cells, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s Genetics Home Reference. And since cholesterol makes up cell membranes, that means cholesterol is in every cell in the body, Harvard Health Publishing notes.

You also need cholesterol to make vitamin D and hormones like estrogen and testosterone, says Harvard Health. Most of the cholesterol your body needs comes from your liver, which manufactures about 80 percent of the cholesterol your body needs for these functions, it adds. The rest comes from foods.

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How Cholesterol And Hormone Related

Cholesterol is often related to various diseases which can be life-threatening in humans. In fact, this waxy substance is a very good substance requiredin moderate amount, for proper digestion and other body functions. While high level of bad cholesterol or the LDL may put us into the risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases, maintain moderate amount of it is beneficial for all processes in our body.

Main functions of cholesterol occurring in our body includes:

  • Digestion

  • Cholesterol helps the liver creating bile acids, which is used by the body to digest consumed food. Without bile acids, foods, especially fats cannot be digested properly.
  • Lack of cholesterol will inhibit proper liver function, which may end in undigested fats. This may cause blockage to the arteries and heighten the risk of heart attack.
  • Building cells

  • Cholesterol is main component of cells, which exists in every cell all over the body.
  • Cholesterol provides protective barrier for the cells.
  • Producing hormones

  • This is one of the most important functions of cholesterol.
  • Vital hormones are produced by the help of cholesterol, which is stored in the adrenal glands.
  • Dietary Tips To Avoid Cholesterol

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    The most important thing you can do to reduce your cholesterol level is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You should try to:

    • Increase the amount and variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods you have each day.
    • Choose low or reduced-fat milk, yoghurt and other dairy products or have added calcium soy drinks.
    • Choose lean meat .
    • Limit fatty meats, including sausages and salami, and choose leaner sandwich meats like turkey breast or cooked lean chicken.
    • Have fish at least twice a week.
    • Replace butter and dairy blends with polyunsaturated margarines.
    • Include foods in your diet that are rich in soluble fibre and healthy fats, such as nuts, legumes and seeds.
    • Limit cheese and ice cream to twice a week.

    Other storage fats that are transported in blood lipoproteins include triglycerides. When present in high concentrations in the blood, this fat is also a risk for heart attack. Some foods will affect the cholesterol level or the triglyceride level and some will affect both.

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    Cholesterol Lowering Drug Side Effects: Diminshed Hormone Function

    So many side effects of cholesterol lowering drugs are caused due to their inhibition of proper hormone synthesis from cholesterol. The most common side effects of statin drugs are: loss of physical strength, sexual dysfunction, memory loss, liver dysfunction, changes in mood, myopathy and several other symptoms.

    Eat A Healthy Balanced Diet

    The body makes all the cholesterol it needs, so people do not need to consume it from foods.

    However, according to one 2018 review , consuming cholesterol from animal products does not cause cardiovascular disease. Instead, it seems to be saturated fat that increases LDL and the overall risk of heart disease.

    Therefore, although eggs contain cholesterol, they are low in saturated fat and nutrient dense, so people can include them as part of a healthy diet.

    Avoiding saturated fat and trans fat

    To avoid saturated fat and trans fat, people should try to limit the following foods:

    • red, fatty, or processed meat
    • full fat dairy products, such as whole milk, cheese, and cream
    • cakes, cookies, donuts, and pastries
    • solid fats, such as margarine, lard, and shortening
    • fried foods

    However, people can include moderate amounts of healthy fats, such as olive oil and avocados, in their diet.

    Avoiding excess sugar

    Consuming high sugar foods or beverages can raise someones triglyceride levels. Therefore, a person should avoid consuming too much sugar, such as by avoiding sugary drinks.

    Increasing dietary fiber

    The AHA notes that dietary fiber can help improve cholesterol levels. Therefore, to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol, people should try to focus on including the following foods in their daily diet:

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    Effects Of Cholesterol Deficiency On Hormone Production

    Hormones which are induced by cholesterol have vital roles in our body. Hence, inhibited productionas a result of limited cholesterol amount inside the body will trigger some problems inside the body. Statinscholesterol-lowering medications have a big impact of cholesterol deregulation in our body. Some of the effects are illustrated as below:

    • Glucocorticoids is an important growth hormone which is produced in human adrenal gland with the help of cholesterol. Hence, cholesterol deficiency will cause lower level of this hormone, which may trigger some symptoms of disturbed health status, such as:
    • Limited movements
    • Muscle cramps
    • Kidney problems and failures
  • Androgenic hormones, such as the DHEA and testosterone are also influenced by cholesterol synthetized in the body. This kind of hormone is essential for libido and also necessary for maintaining bone density and health. Hence, people who are exposed to cholesterol-lowering medications for a long period might experience androgenic hormone deficiency, which may lead to sexual problems, fast aging, and osteoporosis.
  • Progestin hormone has a role of regulating womens menstrual cycles and as a gestation hormone. Deficiency of cholesterol causing limited amount of progestin which increases the risk of having irregular menstrual cycles and miscarriage.
  • Estrogens are critical for sexual development and similar to progesterone, have a critical role for brain function.
  • Where Is Cholesterol Made

    What does fat do to your body?

    Some of our cholesterol comes from the food we eat, but most is made in the liver in a complex 37-step process.

    Cholesterol and another type of blood fat called triglycerides cannot circulate loosely in the blood, so the liver packages them into parcels called lipoproteins.

    The lipoproteins are then released into the blood and carried around the body to wherever they’re needed.

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    Plant Sterols Can Lower Cholesterol Levels

    Plant sterols are found naturally in plant foods including sunflower and canola seeds, vegetable oils and in nuts, legumes, cereals, fruit and vegetables. Some margarine and milks have concentrated plant sterols added to them. Margarines enriched with plant sterolslower LDL cholesterol in most people if the correct amount is eaten .

    Functions Of Cholesterol In The Body

    1. Producing Hormones

    Cholesterol is essential for the bodys creation of steroid hormones. The steroid hormones most people are familiar with are sex hormones, such as testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are needed for reproductive functioning and development of sex characteristics such as facial hair. Other types of steroid hormones related with cholesterol include cortisol and aldosterone. Cortisol is needed for blood sugar maintenance and infection prevention while aldosterone plays a part in water retention.

    2. Creating Vitamin D

    Vitamin D is important because it helps the bodys nervous system function properly. Vitamin D is also critical in other aspects, such as blood sugar regulation, mineral absorption, proper immune response, metabolism and reproduction. Humans can get vitamin D from multiple sources, including foods that are high in cholesterol, such as eggs and fish oil. Cholesterol also helps the body produce vitamin D from sunlight.

    3. Aiding Digestion

    One function of cholesterol in the body is better digestion. Without cholesterol, the body could not digest fat. When a person consumes food that contains fat, the gallbladder releases bile which breaks down large chunks of fat into much smaller particles that can be effectively digested by the body. Additionally, bile is needed for the body to properly absorb vitamins D, A, E and K. These vitamins are fat-soluble, so it makes sense that bile is required for proper use of vitamins.

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    What Does Cholesterol Do In The Cell Membrane

    Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is not essentially harmful. In fact, it is found in and is important for all the cells in your body. Your body needs cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and enzymes that help you digest foods.

    Your liver is responsible for making all the cholesterol your body needs. The rest of the cholesterol in your body comes from dairy products and other fats you intake.

    Excess intake of fats stimulates the liver to produce more cholesterol, which leads to an increase in LDL or low-density lipoprotein. It is HDL or high-density lipoprotein that is good for cell functioning.


    How Does High Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease

    20 Things to Do to Reduce High Cholesterol

    When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries, causing a process called atherosclerosis, a form of heart disease. The arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart muscle is slowed down or blocked. The blood carries oxygen to the heart, and if not enough blood and oxygen reach your heart, you may suffer chest pain. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by a blockage, the result is a heart attack.

    There are two forms of cholesterol that many people are familiar with: Low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein These are the forms in which cholesterol travels in the blood.

    LDL is the main source of artery-clogging plaque. HDL actually works to clear cholesterol from the blood.

    Triglycerides are another fat in our bloodstream. Research is now showing that high levels of triglycerides may also be linked to heart disease.

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