Cholesterol – You can’t seem to go a single day without seeing some ad or article warning of cholesterol’s potential to damage the circulatory system. However, cholesterol as a whole is rarely clearly defined. Cholesterol is a lipid, which basically means that it’s form of fat, and it is necessary to every living thing on our planet.
Even plants have trace amounts of cholesterol contained in cell membranes.
Cholesterol is necessary to the formation of cellular membranes and many hormones the body needs to run properly. Because it is so widely used to build cells, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and growing children all need to ingest a decent amount of cholesterol every day.
However, most cholesterol is synthesized by the body from other fats we take in, and any balanced, healthy diet contains more than enough for any human being.
Any living body, from a cell to a full-grown human, is a process in continual motion. As a part of that process, cholesterol must be kept in balance. Enough must be ingested and synthesized to keep bodily functions going, and enough must be excreted from the body to keep from growing “plaques” of cholesterol on the inside of blood vessels.
Industrial and post-industrial cultures usually have a problem with keeping cholesterol levels from growing too high, rather than suffering from an insufficient amount.
Because cholesterol is synthesized within the body, dietary changes may not be enough to keep cholesterol levels under control, which is why cholesterol-lowering medications can be a viable therapy for some people.
If a given person’s system naturally produces high levels of cholesterol no matter how little cholesterol he or she eats, medication helps curtail the over-production.
However, cholesterol medication should never be used to justify a poor diet or unhealthy lifestyle. Many people think of their cholesterol in terms of HDL and LDL cholesterol. While useful as a shortcut, this is actually inaccurate.
Both HDL and LDL are forms of lipoproteins.
In other words, they are systems of protein chains that carry cholesterol along with them. Cholesterol does not dissolve in blood, so these lipoprotein “baskets” are necessary to convey cholesterol through the bloodstream.
Without HDL and LDL, cholesterol would quickly clump up in any given blood vessel, block it off and create massive systemic problems.
In speaking of cholesterol, as with anything else in the human body, it’s a balancing game.
The body is a marvel of engineering and produces nothing unnecessary to life.
Cholesterol is not the enemy, it does not deserve the level of stress and fear that it’s been stamped with, it’s a fat molecule.
An overdose of cholesterol can kill just as surely as an overdose of oxygen or water.
However, if you have a problem with high cholesterol levels, applied education is the best weapon you have, so research everything, decide on the therapy best for you, and then hopefully enjoy your long life!