“Cholesterol is a fat-like organic compound found in all cells of our body.”

What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is the most prominent member of the steroid family of lipids. It is a waxy, fat-like substance found primarily in the cells of animals and humans, where it is also the principal sterol. All cells and other body fluids contain some cholesterol, either in the free form or in storage form. Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter (DL) of blood. The average level of cholesterol should range from 200-300 mg/DL.

Cholesterol is insoluble in blood as blood is a water-based fluid and cholesterol is an oil-based fluid. Therefore, as the cholesterol enters the bloodstream, it solidifies into lumps, which are called plaques.

Cholesterol- a fat-like waxy substance, which is obtained from two main sources- liver and from our diet. Cholesterol is found in both plants and animal-based food, such as milk, milk products, eggs, whole grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables, etc. Not all cholesterol-containing foods are healthy. Therefore, healthy whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, egg whites, fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of soluble fibre.

Why Is Cholesterol Important?

Cholesterol is an amphipathic lipid. It is found in lipids, in the bloodstream and our body cells. It is used to form cell membranes and the human skin barrier. In addition, it plays an essential role in digestion,  producing hormones.

Cholesterol plays an essential role in digestion, building cells and cell membranes, synthesizing hormone and is valuable for synthesising vitamin D. Cholesterol is also helps in the production of bile acids, which play a vital role in the human digestive system.

Explore More: Lipids

Types Of Cholesterol

According to the rate of lipoproteins, cholesterol is divided into two types: HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.

  • HDL cholesterol

HDL – high-density lipoprotein- It is considered good cholesterol, as a high level of HDL protects against heart attack and stroke. It brings back cholesterol to the liver. The level of HDL cholesterol can range from 40 or more.

  • LDL cholesterol

LDL – low-density lipoprotein- It is considered bad cholesterol, as it is related to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral artery disease. Too much LDL cholesterol circulating in the blood can slowly form plaque, which blocks blood flow and forms a clot. The formation of a clot or lumps in the blood vessels near the heart can cause a heart attack. The level of LDL cholesterol should be less than 100. The liver and intestines play a significant role in controlling the LDL levels in our blood cells.

Also Read: Difference Between Fat And Cholesterol

Risk factors Of Cholesterol

Factors influencing cholesterol levels are: – age, weight, gender, genetics, diseases and lifestyle.

The risk factors associated with the high cholesterol level:

High cholesterol level is mainly caused by diet, but heredity does play a role in increasing cholesterol level. For example, lack of regular exercise can produce higher HDL cholesterol levels, which results in heart disease.

Prevention: As there is no particular treatment available for this disorder, we can control high cholesterol level by having,

  1. Healthy whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, egg whites, fresh fruits and vegetables, etc.
  2. Avoid fatty products and regular exercise for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Avoid alcohol use and quit smoking.

Measuring cholesterol concentration is of clinical and analytical importance as high plasma cholesterol levels are associated with cardiac vascular diseases.

Explore More: Facts about Cholesterol

Stay tuned with BYJU’S to learn more about cholesterol, LDL, HDL, cholesterol levels, causes of high cholesterol, effects of cholesterol and other related topics.

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