In this article, I am going to explain: (i) What is cholesterol (ii) Types of cholesterol and (iii) Why cholesterol is essential for you.
What is Cholesterol in Simple Terms?
Cholesterol is a type of fat. It’s a white, waxy, and insoluble substance that your body produces naturally. It’s present in your bloodstream and body cells. It is essential for many of the body’s metabolic processes. For example, your body needs it to make new cells, insulate nerves, and produce vitamins, certain hormones, and substances that help digest foods.
Cholesterol arises from two sources. Usually, your liver produces all the cholesterol your body needs. But, in addition to what your body produces, it also enters your body from foods, such as animal-based foods. For instance, meat, poultry, and dairy products contain dietary cholesterol, and they can impact your cholesterol levels as well.
Types Of Cholesterol and Triglycerides
Cholesterol travels through your blood on proteins known as “Lipoproteins.” There are two types of cholesterol. They are named after the kind of lipoprotein that is carrying them:
(i) Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol: LDL is called the “bad” cholesterol. It makes up most of your body’s cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood can raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
(ii) High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol: HDL is the “good” kind of cholesterol. This kind absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to your liver. The liver then flushes it out from your body. High levels of HDL cholesterol help cut down on your risk for heart disease and stroke because it helps remove excess cholesterol out of the cells, including cells in the arteries.
(iii) Total Cholesterol: This is the combined amount of LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) in your blood.
(iv) Triglycerides: In addition to cholesterol, triglycerides are the most common type of fat present in your body. They not only come from food, but your body can also make them. They can build up within your artery walls and lead to the formation of plaque.
(v) VLDL: Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) is another type of “bad” cholesterol. High VLDL levels are believed to cause creation of plaque on the arteries. As it’s hard to measure, so most of the time these levels are estimated based on triglyceride measurements.
Why is Cholesterol Important?
The blood cholesterol level has a lot to do with the chances of developing cardiovascular diseases.
High cholesterol contributes to a greater risk for cardiovascular diseases (CVD), heart attack, and stroke. That is the reason: “Why understanding what’s cholesterol and the role it plays in human health is important for men, women, and children of all ages.”
The higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk for getting heart disease or having a heart attack.
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