Cholesterol – Types, Facts and Effects

By | March 11, 2011

Cholesterol is made from liver in the body. It is one type of lipid or fat present in membrane of cells in the body. It is carried in the blood by one type of molecules called as lipoproteins. The high level cholesterol causes atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease (CAD).

What is cholesterol?
It is a white, crystalline and fat-like substance that is often found in animal food products and tissues. The important functions of cholesterol are repairing cell membranes, producing hormones, and vitamin-D. It also helps in creating bile salts that helps in digesting the fat. The cholesterol contained food products are eggs, meat, and dairy products (milk, cheese, and ice creams).

Types of cholesterol:
There are mainly three types of cholesterol that are LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins), HDL (High Density Lipoproteins), and VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoproteins). Another type of lipids is triglycerides. The lipoproteins carry it in the blood.

  • Low Density Lipoproteins: LDL referred as Low Density Lipoproteins. LDL is also called as “bad cholesterol”. Low Density Lipoproteins carry it from liver to different areas of body like muscles, tissues, organs, and heart. Higher level of LDL increases the risk of heart diseases. If LDL levels are too high, then it can become a part of a thick hard layer inside arteries called as ‘plaques’. The forming of plaques is known as atherosclerosis. Due to plaque formation the blood flow decreases. If blood flow decreases, there is less oxygen carried to tissues. Lack of oxygen causes heart stroke.
  • High Density Lipoproteins: High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) is good type of cholesterol. It carries cholesterol from tissues and organs to liver for recycling and degradation. HDL carries other type of lipids also apart from the cholesterol. High levels of HDL reduce the risk for heart disease.
  • Very Low Density Lipoproteins: Very Low Density Lipoproteins (VLDL) carry the cholesterol from liver to other tissues and organs. VLDL is created based on a combination of cholesterol and triglycerides.

Facts about cholesterol:

  • Lowering cholesterol levels reduce the risk for heart diseases.
  • The person who has heart disease can prevent death and disability by reducing the level of cholesterol.
  • If blood cholesterol exceeds 220 ml/dl then it causes heart diseases.
  • The liver makes small percentage of cholesterol from food. But more saturated fat form the more cholesterol.
  • The animal food products have cholesterol. The food products from plants do not have cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol does not travel by its own in blood, it requires lipoproteins to travel in the blood.

Health Effects of cholesterol:
High-level cholesterol causes serious diseases. The high level cholesterol causes health problems over many years.

The health effects of cholesterol are:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Coronary artery diseases. (CAD), Angina
  • Heart arrhythmias (an irregular heart rhythm)
  • Heart attack

Many of the food products contain saturated fats. And that fat increases the level of cholesterol in the body and causes different type of diseases. It is better to take balanced diet for reducing the cholesterol. And check your blood cholesterol on a regular basis.

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