What is cholesterol?

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Cholesterol refers to a fat-like substance that circulates in the body through the blood stream. They are produced by the liver and may be introduced to the body by various food items such as meat products and milk for example.  Cholesterol is needed by the body for various purposes including the production and/or regulation of hormones and cells.

Two types of cholesterol are present in the bloodstream. HDL or high-density type lipoprotein is the one labelled as good cholesterol. This type of cholesterol may be sourced from healthier food items such as the fat from some fish varieties. This cholesterol helps the liver in terms of getting rid of too much fatty or bad cholesterol floating in the bloodstream. The other type of cholesterol is called LDL or low-density lipoprotein. When there is too much of this type, their tendency is to accumulate in the walls of the arteries causing plaque which can damage the arteries and block the blood flow. When this happens, serious conditions may result such as stroke and cardio-vascular diseases.

Doctors, nutritionists, and experts often advise people to help control their cholesterol levels.  Too much intake of animal-based protein is said to increase bad cholesterol levels and could increase the chances of people developing a stroke or a heart attack for example.  Eating red meat and fat along with fattening dairy products and desserts like ice cream should be done in moderation to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.  Consumption of fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber is always promoted to help get rid of bad cholesterol and aid in the build-up of good cholesterol in the bloodstream.  Olive oil and some nuts are also considered very good in helping good cholesterol to go up and lower the bad cholesterol types.  With the right diet and some regular exercise, cholesterol levels can be controlled for optimum health.

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