All of us require a certain amount of cholesterol in our bodies to maintain basic functions, but excessive amounts can obstruct our arteries and result in health complications down the line, such as cardiovascular disease. By undergoing an uncomplicated cholesterol examination and adopting beneficial lifestyle habits, the majority of individuals can maintain optimal cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is present in each and every cell of your body. It has significant functions in regulating the body's processes, and is specifically crucial for the proper functioning of the brain, nerves, and skin.
What Is Cholesterol ?
Cholesterol refers to a group of lipids that are organic molecules. It is a type of modified steroid, known as a sterol. Cholesterol is produced by all animal cells and is an important component of animal cell membranes. When isolated chemically, it appears as a solid with a yellowish colour.
Furthermore, cholesterol acts as a precursor for the biosynthesis of bile acid, steroid hormones, and vitamin D. It is the main sterol synthesised by all animals, with the highest amounts produced by hepatic cells in vertebrates. While prokaryotes, such as bacteria and archaea, do not produce cholesterol, some exceptions exist, including Mycoplasma, which require cholesterol for growth.
Cholesterol is a crucial component for all animal life, and every cell possesses the ability to produce it via a complicated 37-step process. This process commences with the mevalonate or HMG-CoA reductase pathway, which is the target of statin medications and involves the first 18 steps. Following this, 19 additional steps are taken to convert the resultant lanosterol into cholesterol.
An average human male weighing 68 kg (150 lb) typically generates around 1 gram (1,000 mg) of cholesterol per day, and his body contains approximately 35 g, mainly located within the cell membranes. The typical daily cholesterol intake for an American man is 307 mg.
Most ingested cholesterol is esterified, making it challenging for the gut to absorb it. Moreover, the body reduces its own cholesterol synthesis to compensate for the absorption of ingested cholesterol. Therefore, cholesterol in food has little to no effect on blood cholesterol levels seven to ten hours after ingestion. However, during the first seven hours after cholesterol ingestion, the concentration of cholesterol in the blood increases as absorbed fats are carried around the body by various lipoproteins, which transport all fats in the water outside cells.
What Is Bad Or Good Cholesterol
The doctors at Keck Medicine of USC's USC Cardiac and Vascular Institute have the ability to evaluate your levels of beneficial and detrimental cholesterol and support you in implementing healthier dietary and lifestyle practices to attain optimal equilibrium.
The two main types of Cholesterol which are good or bad are -
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) - cholesterol which is commonly known as bad cholesterol has the ability to bind with proteins and other compounds in the bloodstream, forming plaques. These plaques can accumulate and lead to the hardening, narrowing, or obstruction of blood vessels .
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) - cholesterol, also referred to as good cholesterol does not contribute to the blockage of arteries. Instead, it aids in the transportation of cholesterol away from blood vessels and towards the liver for breakdown and elimination from the body.
How To Control Cholesterol
Here are some steps which can help you to control Cholesterol -
Eating for a Healthy Heart - To maintain a healthy heart, it is recommended to follow a diet that restricts the consumption of saturated and trans fats. It further suggests consuming just enough calories to prevent weight gain and maintaining a healthy weight. Additionally, it encourages the intake of a variety of nourishing foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. Effective diets that can help reduce cholesterol levels are the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet and the DASH eating plan.
Physical Fitness - Regular physical activity (30 minutes on most, if not all, days) is recommended for everyone.
Stress Management - Studies have revealed that chronic stress can raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. Therefore, it is necessary to manage stress effectively.
Stop Smoking - Smoking cessation can increase HDL cholesterol levels. As HDL aids in the removal of LDL cholesterol from the arteries, an increase in HDL levels can help decrease LDL cholesterol levels.
Certain individuals may find that modifying their diet and lifestyle is insufficient in their efforts to decrease their cholesterol levels. Elevated blood cholesterol levels frequently carry a genetic element. Certain individuals inherit modified genes that lead to high cholesterol, which generally cannot be rectified through lifestyle or dietary changes. If you are at risk of developing coronary heart disease and your LDL cholesterol level does not decrease despite implementing dietary and lifestyle changes, your physician may suggest medications to decrease your blood LDL levels.
Statins are the most prevalent medications used to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Statins decelerate the amount of cholesterol that your liver produces. Instead, the liver uses the cholesterol that is already present in your blood. This results in a decrease in the level of LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream.
Some individuals experience muscle pains as a result of taking statins. Nonetheless, adhering to a healthy diet and engaging in physical activity remains crucial, even if you are taking medication. Your physician may also refer you to a specialist who specialises in treating cardiovascular diseases.