Cholesterol, the body needs it to function correctly. It is a waxy fatty lipid that is found in the tissues and blood of all human, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.

All cells need fat, and all animal cells need chol-e-sterol which is an alcohol sterol needed to build multiple membranes, which the cells use to both control water, and soluble elements and to organize their internal structure.

The liver needs it to make bile acid which aids in digesting dietary fats. The body uses it to produce certain hormones, including sex hormones. Hormones are chemical substances that influence many of the body's activities.

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The body gets the necessary cholesterol it needs two ways

1) Our body produces its own.
2) Through the food that we eat. When we eat anything that is, or originated from an animal, bird or fish, it has cholesterol in it. This includes eggs, milk and cheese.

The transportation is done through carrier molecules called lipoproteins.

There are three types of lipoproteins that transport cholesterol through the blood stream to the various cells of the body.

  • The LDL- low density lipoprotein
  • The HDL- high density lipoprotein
  • The VLDL-very low density lipoprotein

These lipoproteins also transport triglycerides which are stored in the body as fat cells or used by the cells for energy.

So far so good so what is the problem? Why the bad reputation?

Although the body needs cholesterol, excessive amounts of LDL or VLDL are very dangerous. They tend to stick to the arterial walls and begin a gradual buildup of plaque that either narrows the arteries blocking the blood flow, or they rupture and cause blood clots that inhibit blood flow.
Blood flows inhibited in the coronary arteries is the cause of heart attacks and death.

Too little HDL is also dangerous as it is needed to cleanse LDL off the arterial walls.

The primary causes for high LDL are

  • High Cholesterol Diet - eating too much saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fats.
  • Weight - excessive weight increases LDL
  • Sedentary lifestyle- which causes an increase in weight which causes an increase in LDL, and a reduction in HDL
  • Heredity- genes play a role- it runs in families
  • Stress- there are many studies showing that stress increases LDL

The danger

  • High HDL low LDL is one of the main cardiac risk factors for heart disease which include
  • Cigarette smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Diabetes

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