Cholesterol is an essential topic. What is your immediate reaction, or what comes first to your mind? It is always associated with heart problems such as hypertension and myocardial infarction. It is an essential building block of every cell in your body. Cholesterol is needed in particular to build up and stabilize the cell membrane which is the surrounding shell that protects all your cells. Cholesterol has that role in all animals.
Moreover, cholesterol is a building block for all your steroid hormones, such as the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen. Maybe that explains why cholesterol-lowering medication, on average, has been shown to significantly worsen a person’s sex life.
Cholesterol is transported in the blood to get to the cells that need it. The transportation takes place in special “package” with names such as LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL ( good cholesterol). Cholesterol is not really a hazardous substance, but it’s actually one of the substances that our body needs to keep us healthy. However, one should realize that there are two types of cholesterol: good cholesterol and bad cholesterol.
A high Cholesterol level in blood may statistically increase the risk of heart disease slightly. However, a high level of “good” cholesterol, HDL, lower the risk of heart disease.
HDL – good cholesterol
HDL is the packaging that can remove excess cholesterol from the body and transport it back to the liver. High levels of HDL lowers the risk of heart disease significantly. Good cholesterol can take away fat and cholesterol stored in the body.
LDL – bad cholesterol
First, a clarification. LDL is called bad cholesterol. However, some LDL is vital for the body. It will only be potentially dangerous if you get too much.
Fat and cholesterol from food is transported first to the liver, where it is compacted into large containers called VLDL. These are released into the blood and bind to the cells intermittently in the body that needs the addition of fat and cholesterol (for energy or as building materials).
It has been shown that the smaller and denser a LDL particle becomes, the easier it becomes oxidised (rancid) and trapped in the damaged vessel wall. Hence it can be involved in the process that causes cardiovascular disease (which also depends on many other factors).