Cholesterol has been given a bad rap, with its name linked to cardiovascular health risks, but the truth is we couldn’t exist without it! It’s so important that our very own liver produces 2/3 of what is found in our body.
The body uses it for:
- Hormone production.
- Vitamin D production.
- The digestion of fats.
- Cell structure and function.
Why is it important to know about Cholesterol?
When cholesterol levels become too high, issues can arise.
Hypercholesterolaemia (high cholesterol in the blood) is diagnosed when total cholesterol is greater than 4.0mmol/L. It can be measured in a standard blood test with your doctor.
Cholesterol travels around the body in two main particles – low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Total cholesterol is the sum of the two. LDL carries cholesterol around the body. Too much LDL in the bloodstream increases the creation of harmful cholesterol-filled plaques that grow inside arteries. HDL carries cholesterol back to the liver for excretion.
Think of your body like a supermarket. The groceries are our cholesterol, we need them to keep us going. LDL (or the supermarket employees) keep the shelves full of produce and HDL (the shoppers) take them away to use. If there are too many workers or not enough customers, the shelves become crowded and the place becomes a mess. Luckily, ensuring HDL is shopping just as often will keep the aisles clean and easy to navigate.
The ratio of total cholesterol-to-HDL is important; the smaller the number the better. Imbalanced levels of different types of cholesterol can lead to an increased risk to your heart health.