What is Cholesterol

By: Haman Oakley

When many people discuss the term cholesterol, they assume that this is a bad thing that is somehow caused by external circumstances. If you could eliminate those circumstances, your body would have no more cholesterol and you would be fine.
That is not quite correct though. Cholesterol is actually present in every healthy human body. It is a fatty substance produced by the liver, and is involved in the production of hormones and the distribution of fats from the liver to and from other organs.
The two kinds of cholesterol are: Low Density Lipoproteins and High Density Lipoproteins. The first, LDL, is frequently referred to as the bad guy. In a normal body, it deals with the distribution of fatty material from the liver to other areas in your body. This is not necessarily a bad thing - it only becomes a problem when our bodies don't need that fat! HDL is usually seen as the "good" guy. That is due to its involvement in the process of getting excess fat back from the rest of the body to the liver to be dealt with.
The bad news is that there are several factors, both external and internal that could cause HDL to drop below an acceptable level, and LDL to rise to a dangerous level. We will look at a few of those below.
One of the most important causes of cholesterol levels going haywire is to put it bluntly: eating too much, and eating the wrong food. In times gone by, our forebears had a more active lifestyle. If they ate a lot of fatty food, the body used that to provide energy, and no harmful substances were stored, no balances disturbed. In our time we eat way too much fatty food, which our bodies don't need, and has no other plan with than to store it in the form of fat. The balance of HDL and LDL in our bodies becomes disturbed, and this results in the build-up of fatty tissue in our arteries, often clogging them.
Another important contributing factor to cholesterol imbalance is smoking. Not many people know that cigarettes contain a highly toxic substance known as acrolein. This stuff is also present in pesticides and chemical weapons! It suppresses the normal functioning of LDL and HDL. One the one hand HDL no longer effectively carries excess fat from other areas of the body back to the liver to be destroyed or recycled, and LDL is oxidized in the whole process, changing it cellular structure and causing it to malfunction.
Genetic factors can play a further detrimental role in the normal functioning of our cholesterol system. It has been shown that up to 70% of people has a genetic defect causing the normal balance of good and bad cholesterol in their bodies to become disturbed. The result is either too much LDL, or too little HDL, and in turn the body is not able to deal with excess fat in a normal way.
In our hard-eating, hard-drinking, heavy-smoking, no-exercise society all the above factors often combine to form a deadly cocktail of cholesterol ending in heart disease and death. Cholesterol is in fact one of the major causes of death all over the world.

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Would you like to learn more about foods that lower cholesterol? Read other article at cholesterol diet

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