Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance which circulates the body in the blood. It evolves from the saturated fatty acids in the liver, and plays an important role in maintaining cells in the body. Cholesterol aids the production of healthy cell membranes, it produces bile salts that aid fat digestion, and it helps in the making of hormones and in the production of vitamin D, Functions that a body needs on a daily basis.

The name cholesterol originates from the Greek chole- (bile) and stereos (solid), and the chemical suffix -ol for an alcohol, as François Poulletier de la Salle first identified cholesterol in solid form in gallstones, in 1769. However, it was only in 1815 that chemist Eugène Chevreul named the compound "cholesterine".

Although cholesterol helps the body in many ways, the presence of too much of it can be harmful. When an excessive amount is present in the bloodstream, there is the danger that it can cause blood vessels to clog, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Most of the cholesterol in the human body is created by the liver, but a small percentage of the total comes from the food we eat.

The more food we consume that contains saturated fats, the greater the presence of excessive levels of cholesterol in our body and this brings with it a heightened risk to our health.

Generally,  there are two main types of cholesterol:
1. Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), which is referred to as being the bad cholesterol, and which we should work towards reducing. This tends to deposit cholesterol on the artery walls and cause clogging.
2. High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), which is thought of as the good cholesterol, because it helps eliminate bad cholesterol from the blood, takes it back to the liver, and thus helps to reduce the risk of clogged arteries.

The cholesterol we introduce into our body through our diet, is present in all animal-based foods like dairy products, eggs and meat. These contain the type of fats that can kill us – saturated fats. But there are three types of fat in our food. The others are mono saturated fats, which are present in plant oils, and polyunsaturated fats such as Omega 3, which are found in oily fish and plant oils such as sunflower, soybean and safflower. These types of fat can help to slow down the formation of blood clots and too reduce the likelihood of heart disease.

Fats of all types produce calories and can contribute to weight gain, but the consumption of too much saturated fat poses a greater risk to the good health of your body. The more saturated fats you include in your diet the more cholesterol that is produced by your body, which enters your bloodstream, and increases your chance of developing heart disease.
By eating less food containing saturated fats and more with mono unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats we can help reduce the amount of newly formed cholesterol in the body. People with known high levels of cholesterol in their bloodstream really need to change their eating habits as a matter of priority, to reduce the risk to their health.
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