High cholesterol isn’t good for fitness and health. High cholesterol in the blood can cause a number of medical conditions ranging from cardiovascular diseases to obesity. Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death worldwide.
But not everyone knows what cholesterol really is, how it causes diseases and how to reduce the amount of cholesterol we eat.
Cholesterol is a type of fat present in large amount in the body tissue, mostly in the liver and blood of humans and animals.
It is necessary to understand that cholesterol is an essential substance for the body and it can be both bad and good. This will be further discussed in this article.
ADVANTAGES OF CHOLESTEROL
- Synthesizing steroids
- A component of cell membranes
- Synthesizing vitamin D
- Synthesizing bile acids
- Undergoing catabolism to Fatty acids which provide us with energy.
TRANSPORT AND DEPOSIT OF CHOLESTEROL
Lipids including cholesterol can’t flow freely in our blood. This will result in clogging of the blood. In other to transport lipids, the body uses specific proteins called Apoproteins. Together with lipids, they form Lipoproteins. ApoB-48 is responsible for transporting cholesterol esters. Chylomicron is a combination of ApoB-48 and cholesterol esters. Chylomicron degrades to Chylomicron remnant
ApoB-100 is responsible for transporting cholesterol. VLDL (Very Low-Density Lipoprotein) is a combination of ApoB-100 and cholesterol. VLDL degrades to IDL (Intermediate Density Lipoprotein).
In summary, Cholesterol is transported and deposited in the liver. Other lipids are transported and deposited in the adipose tissue.
GOOD AND BAD CHOLESTEROL
Cholesterol can be good and bad. High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is good cholesterol. On the other hand, Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is bad cholesterol.
HDL is good cholesterol because it takes cholesterol into itself from the blood, converts it to cholesterol esters and prevents them from precipitating. This can be given back to the IDL or stored in the liver.
IDL degrades to LDL. LDL is bad because of Its ability to undergo oxidization. This can undergo a series of processes and may become foam cells and subsequently, atherosclerotic plaques. Atherosclerosis is the underlying cause of heart diseases. We have discussed this in High Blood Pressure, Why You Need to be Aware and The Difference between Heart Attack and Heart Failure.
CONTROLLING CHOLESTEROL – WHAT TO EAT
Since we know high cholesterol isn’t good for our health, it’s necessary to control it. We get cholesterol by synthesizing it in our body or from animal protein.
Diet high in cholesterol
- Baked food
- Hydrogenated oil
- Red meat
- Full-fat diary
Diet low in cholesterol
According to a report from Harvard Health, 11 food that lowers cholesterol were identified. These include:
- Barley and other whole grains
- Eggplants and Okra
- Vegetable oils
- Apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits
- Foods fortified with sterols and stanols
- Fatty fish
- Fibre supplements
Other ways to reduce cholesterol include taking cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins and doing exercise. The importance of being fit can’t be overemphasized. If you aren’t sure where to start from, then read our article on fitness basics.