8 - 14, 2010

Cholesterol...You hear the word a lot. But, what exactly is cholesterol, and why should you be concerned about it?

Cholesterol is a waxy steroid metabolite found in the cell membranes and transported in the blood plasma of all animals. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes, where it is required to establish proper membrane permeability and fluidity. Cholesterol is a type of fat made in the liver and found in animal foods. In addition, it is an important component for the manufacture of bile acids, steroid hormones, and several fat-soluble vitamins.

Cholesterol is the principal sterol synthesized by animals, but small quantities are synthesized in other eukaryotes, such as plants and fungi. It is almost completely absent among prokaryotes, which include bacteria.

Cholesterol is needed for important body functions

- Building cell walls

- Protecting nerves

- Making hormones

THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF CHOLESTEROL: The good (HDL or high-density lipid) and the bad (LDL or low-density lipid).

A higher level of HDL is needed to carry LDL from the blood back to the liver to be eliminated from the body. If there is a higher level of LDL cholesterol in the blood this may cause high blood pressure, raise risk of heart attack, raise risk of stroke, cause the kidneys to fail.


Cholesterol is broken down into LDL, which is needed by the body cells. Once the cells are satisfied the unused LDL remains to become what is known as blood cholesterol. The main danger of high blood cholesterol is that fatty plaques may form which will decrease the diameter of blood vessels. This leads to a restriction of the flow of blood and oxygen to the tissues of the body.

- If an artery supplying blood to the heart becomes blocked you may have a heart attack.

- If an artery supplying blood to the brain becomes blocked you may have a stroke.

- If an artery supplying blood to the kidney becomes blocked you may suffer kidney failure.


The main causes are eating too much high saturated fat i.e. fat found in butter and dairy products, cakes biscuits and takeaway foods; being overweight; and not exercising.


- Eat more fruits and vegetables; oily fish (tuna, mackerel and herring); skinless chicken; fibre rich foods, e.g. oats and whole meal bread.

- Eat less fried takeaway fast foods; high fat dairy products and eggs; saturated fats and oils; biscuits, cakes, and pastries.

- Use unsaturated margarine instead of butter; unsaturated oils (olive oil) instead of lard; low fat cooking methods: steaming, grilling and microwaving.

- Make exercise a part of your day. (Walking is good).

- Do not smoke.

- Drink more water.

The link between blood cholesterol levels and heart disease is clear. Studies have shown that if an average person can reduce his blood cholesterol by only 10% he can reduce his risk of heart attack by up to 50%s.