Cholesterol is a crystalline substance belongs to the group of steroids. It is found naturally in our bodies because cholesterol is needed to carry out all our vital functions properly. Cholesterol is present in the brain, liver, nerves, blood and bile in both humans and animals. So those who always said that to reduce cholesterol levels should avoid eating foods of animal origin.
The liver produces 80% of total cholesterol and the other 20% comes from the diet. Cholesterol is involved in metabolic processes, hormonal, digestive and nervous. It is transported from the liver to the cells via proteins called lipoproteins. The cells use what they need and the rest remains in the bloodstream waiting for other lipoproteins.
The lipoproteins that transport from the liver to the tissues are the LDL (low density lipoprotein), known as bad cholesterol. The HDL (high density lipoprotein) or good cholesterol are responsible for eliminating excess cholesterol from the blood and tissues to return back to your liver.
The balance changed when the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream exceeds the amount of HDL. It is when cholesterol sticks to the walls of arteries forming plaque, clogging and jamming through blood, a pathology that is known as arteriosclerosis, which leads directly to many health problems. Therefore, when our HDL levels are high and the LDL is low, we will have lower risk of heart disease or clogged arteries, as long as our eating habits are correct.
The blood cholesterol level set to normal “safe” is 200 mg / dl (HDL + LDL), it increased risk of heart disease when it exceeds 200 mg / dl. The risk becomes too high when above 240 mg / dl.
Within these total cholesterol values is fundamental relationship between HDL and LDL, if the HDL level in blood is less than 35mg/dL, it is actually increased cardiovascular risk despite having a total cholesterol of 200mg/dl. As HDL levels decrease, the greater risk of cardiovascular problems. Normal values of HDL in the blood are between 50-60 mg / dl.
We should follow a controlled diet and limited in saturated fats, avoiding sugar and alcohol. These factors are contributing to increased levels of cholesterol. We may need to stress control as it is shown that generates an overproduction of natural cholesterol.
Other causes of high cholesterol are cholesterol gallstones, impotence, high blood pressure (hypertension), and mental impairment. Other studies have found a close relationship between cholesterol and some cancers. We must not forget the hereditary factor, as many are people who have high cholesterol despite following a healthy diet low in fat and that nevertheless fail to reduce their LDL levels.
The international recommendation given by the World Health Organization, is not to exceed 300 mg of cholesterol in the diet. Controlling the intake of saturated fats is essential to prevent hypercholesterolemia.