WHAT IS CHOLESTEROL AND WHAT IS ITS ROLE?
Without much ado, Cholesterol is an organic molecule, a sterol – or modified steroid – being biosynthesized by all animal cells.
Cholesterol has an essential structural role in the body, and is made up of LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein – bad cholesterol) and HDL (High Density Lipoprotein – good cholesterol).
And why do we need it? Simple. For the digestion of food and because the human body needs cholesterol to produce hormones, vitamin D.
That is why it is essential that the cholesterol level is maintained within normal parameters:
- total cholesterol <200mg/dl.
- LDL <100mg/dl, – HDL >60mg/dl.
Exceeding these limits leads to conditions such as: atherosclerosis, hypertension, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, type 2 diabetes, and others.
What causes cholesterol to rise?
Unhealthy lifestyle is the most common cause of high cholesterol, here we remind you:
- unhealthy eating habits, such as eating saturated fat – found in meat and meat products, dairy products, chocolate, pastries and fried or processed foods.
- sedentary lifestyle lowers the level of HDL cholesterol.
- smoking lowers HDL cholesterol, especially in women, and increases LDL cholesterol.
- hereditary factor, for example familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited form of high cholesterol.
- aging, because cholesterol levels tend to increase as we age.
- weight – overweight people usually have an increased level of cholesterol.
Maintaining an optimal cholesterol level is done through lifestyle changes:
- quitting smoking.
- giving up alcohol.
- maintaining an optimal body weight.
- replacing unhealthy food products – fast food, saturated fat of animal origin, refined sweets – with healthy foods rich in unsaturated fats, such as fish and oilseeds.
- eating foods rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids, which reduce the level of bad cholesterol – LDL and increase the level of good cholesterol – HDL.