Whether you watch the evening news, or you have done some form of research on your own, you have probably come across several different takes on exactly what cholesterol is all about. Many experts will tout the benefits of cholesterol and how important it is for your body. Others will tell you that cholesterol is bad for you, and can lead to debilitating conditions such as fatty deposits in your arteries that could lead to heart disease later on in life. In this article, we will look at the cholesterol myth, a few of the most popular misconceptions, and provide you with a basic overview of the truth about cholesterol.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is actually a molecule, a sterol type compound that exists in most of our body tissues today. It is found in our blood, our nerves, and can also be found in our arteries. On a very basic level, cholesterol appears to be a very fatty substance that is similar to wax in appearance and consistency. The benefits of cholesterol include helping the body to make certain hormones, substances that help us digest food, and also in the creation of vitamin D. Traveling through our bloodstream in what are called lipoproteins, the fatty part of cholesterol, or the lipid, is inside, and the protein component is on the outside.
Two Types Of Cholesterol
There are actually two kinds of cholesterol or lipoproteins. The first is a lower density lipoprotein, also called a LDL. The other is called a higher density lipoprotein, also called a HDL. LDL-cholesterol is often discussed on the news, and is sometimes referred to as bad cholesterol. This is the type of cholesterol which can lead to significant cholesterol buildup in our arteries. On the other hand, HDL cholesterol is the good cholesterol. It actually performs a vital function by taking cholesterol to your liver so that your liver can remove it from the body. If you have high amounts of LDL-cholesterol, you are more prone to having heart disease. If you have high amounts of HDL cholesterol, you have a lower chance of developing heart disease. Now that you know the difference between the two types of cholesterol in your body, and what their functions are, let’s look at a few cholesterol myths that now might make more sense.
Cholesterol Myths And Misconceptions
Cholesterol Myth #1 is that only cholesterol can cause blockages in your arteries. This is a common misconception that most people believe, but it is simply not true. An amino acid called homocysteine, which is a byproduct of digested proteins, can also clog your arteries. As long as you have a diet high in leafy green vegetables, or take B vitamin supplements, this should not affect cholesterol buildup in your body at all.
Cholesterol Myth #2 is that only by augmenting our diet, and eating healthy foods, can we lower the amount of LDL-cholesterol in our system. This also is unequivocally false. Although it is true that reducing saturated fat in our daily diet can help reduce the amount of LDL-cholesterol that we have in our system, there are actually more efficient ways to keep this under control. By participating in a beneficial exercise program every day, and avoiding exposure to carcinogen based smoke, you can actually prevent the overdevelopment of LDL-cholesterol within your body.
In conclusion, cholesterol is absolutely necessary for us to be healthy. From cholesterol, sex hormones such as testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen are developed. Without cholesterol, our immune system would not be able to help us fight against sickness and disease. It is also necessary for proper brain function, specifically in regard to short-term and long-term memory. In the absence of cholesterol, our body would simply not function properly. However, by limiting the amount of LDL cholesterol that we have in our body, an increasing the amounts of HDL cholesterol, we can maintain a proper levels of this compound in our system, allowing us to lead normal and healthy lives