More and more people and children have high cholesterol. Too high cholesterol levels in the blood are considered a risk factor for a heart attack. But what is cholesterol anyway? Is cholesterol dangerous? And what does an elevated cholesterol level say about your health?
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is one of the most important molecules of our body. It is a fat and is found in all cell membranes of the body. It supports the synthesis of hormones, is very important for the production of progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and other hormones and improves the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and cell regeneration.
About 1000 milligrams of cholesterol is produced by the liver every day and its level of cholesterol is regulated by it. If we take in too little cholesterol through the diet, the cholesterol production in the liver is stimulated. If we eat enough of it, the liver produces less. This is important to maintain the functions of cholesterol.
Different types of cholesterol
With the help of proteins, the cholesterol is transported to different parts of the body. LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) distributes the newly formed cholesterol throughout the body where it can be used in different ways.
HDL cholesterol (High-Density Lipoprotein) recovers the used cholesterol and brings it to the liver, where it is excreted via the bile.
It is also often referred to as “good” HDL cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol. The reason for this is that too much LDL cholesterol constricts blood vessels with cholesterol and HDL cholesterol removes cholesterol from the blood vessels.
Is elevated cholesterol dangerous?
Cholesterol is needed in the body wherever something needs to be repaired. Infections, stress, diabetes and a poor diet are common causes of inflammation that damage various cells. If a cell is damaged, the LDL cholesterol is transported. This gets to the damaged area and helps to repair and heal it.
Also in the arteries, the cholesterol is used to repair inflammation and injury to the inner walls of the blood vessels. If the inflammation persists for longer or the injury is irritated again and again, more and more LDL cholesterol accumulates in the blood vessels. The cholesterol deposits on the walls of the arteries, leading to plaques over time, restricting their flexibility and narrowing them.
Cholesterol is therefore not the triggering factor for the narrowing of the arteries and the subsequent diseases. Cholesterol is needed to heal the arteries. It is the injuries and inflammations that stimulate an increased accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries, causing them to narrow over time.
What raises cholesterol?
Smoking, stress and poor eating habits are among the most common causes that cause damage and inflammation of the blood vessels and thereby increase cholesterol levels.
In particular, the consumption of sugar, corn syrup, white flour and simple carbohydrates increases inflammation throughout the body, including in the arterial walls. Vitamin C deficiency can also lead to brittle arterial walls and reduce their flexibility, causing inflammation to develop more quickly.
Also, vegetable oils can cause some serious problems and inflammation. Many vegetable oils are oxidized or hydrogenated and contain many omega-6 fatty acids that increase inflammation in the body in the event of imbalance with omega-3 fatty acids. These oils also contain free radicals that can weaken the arterial walls.
Reduce risk of heart disease
- Integrate foods with cholesterol into the diet. If too little cholesterol is absorbed through the diet, the body has to produce it on its own. Cholesterol is vital to the body. LDL cholesterol helps repair cell damage and HDL cholesterol helps to remove excess deposits in the arteries. It brings the used cholesterol to the liver, where it is disposed of. The higher the HDL level, the better.
- Reduce processed carbohydrates and cereal products. Both increase the risk of inflammation in the body.
- Avoid vegetable oils (such as corn oil, rapeseed oil and soybean oil) and trans fats. These oils can cause an imbalance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.
- Integrate foods with saturated fats and other good fats into your diet. These include, for example, coconut oil, olive oil and linseed oil. These fats have an anti-inflammatory effect.
- Take in more sunlight to stimulate vitamin D production in the body.
- Integrate foods with many omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect, improve the flow properties of the blood and protect against clumping of the platelets. Salmon, mackerel, flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts are foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Integrate foods with antioxidants. Antioxidants have an anti-inflammatory effect and protect against the effects of free radicals, which cause cell damage to the blood vessels. Berries, raw cocoa and dark green leafy vegetables contain antioxidants.
- Move more. Exercise and regular exercise strengthen the heart and muscles of the blood vessels. They also improve blood circulation and reduce stress hormones in the body.
- Sufficient sleep and reduce stress. Stress and lack of sleep lead to inflammation in the body, which can damage the blood vessels.
Cholesterol is vital to the body. An elevated cholesterol level can be an indication of inflammation in the body or indicate that the body needs just more, for example, to produce hormones or to absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as statins, channel LDL cholesterol out of the bloodstream, thereby preventing vasoconstriction. But they also affect the body’s ability to produce cholesterol, which interferes with various functions of cholesterol. Frequent consequences are then disturbed hormone levels, poor vitamin intake, depression, sleep disorders and impaired fertility. To permanently control cholesterol levels, inflammation in the body should be reduced.
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