Thursday, 24 September 2015

CHOLESTEROL AND HEALTH

In the recent past, cholesterol has gained bad reputation due to its associated prevalence of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, diabetes mellitus and others. But do you know without cholesterol life would come to an halt? Cholesterol is good to the body just like other nutrients but the secret behind it is to keep healthy numbers.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance which is primarily synthesized by the liver. Dietary supply is also a major source of cholesterol in the body. Eating food with high level of cholesterol results into down-regulation of the endogenous production of cholesterol in the liver.

According to American Heart Association, eating food with high content of saturated fats and trans fats makes the live synthesize more cholesterol.

Cholesterol functions to:-   
  • Maintaining the cell membrane integrity (cell membrane integrity in animal cells disregards the need for cell wall unlike in plant cells)
  • Cholesterol functions in cell signaling,conduction of nerve impulses and transport within the cell.   
  • Bile is a derivative of cholesterol and is used in digestion and absorption of fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E, K 
Cholesterol is transported in the body by lipoprotein. Two main types of lipoprotein exist:-
  • Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol- It carries cholesterol from the liver to the body cells. It is also called bad cholesterol as it is associated with formation of plague which lines the inner layer of blood vessels.
  • High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol- It carries cholesterol from the body cells back to the liver for excretion from the body. High levels of HDL-cholesterol is said to be good. 
 High level of LDL-cholesterol is not healthy. It leads to cholesterol being deposited along the inner lining of small arteries forming plaque which narrows and eventually may occlude flow of blood. The dark side of this phenomenon is when blood supply to the vital organs is occluded. For instance, if arteries supplying blood to the heart muscles are occluded by plaque heart attack ensues and may threaten ones life. Similarly, stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain tissue is occluded.

Sometimes due to the turbulent flow of blood the plaque may rapture releasing minute clots to the blood or the plaque may dislodge as a whole which travels with blood and it lodges in the fine blood vessels resulting into compromised blood supply.

Risk factors to high cholesterol level. 

  • Smoking
  • Genetic factors- history of high cholesterol level in a family line is a risk factor to hypercholesterolemia
  • Dietary lifestyle- food rich in saturated and trans fats increases liver synthesis of cholesterol.

References:-
High cholesterol- NHS choices. Address:http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cholesterol/Pages/Introduction.aspx
What is Cholesterol? NHLBI. Address: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc
Cholesterol- Wikipedia, The free encyclopedia. Address: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cholesterol