What Does Cholesterol Mean?

What Does Cholesterol Mean?

Although generally known as a health issue, the term “cholesterol” refers to a natural substance (lipoprotein), essential to our body because it helps building cells, stimulates the production of certain hormones (testosterone, estrogen, adrenaline, etc.) and ensures the proper functioning of our nervous system. Cholesterol is considered as a building material and fuel for various other body organs that use it.

 Specialized transporters are present in our blood and through them, cholesterol is delivered throughout the body. There is a specific type of carrier, generally called LDL (low-density lipoprotein), which takes cholesterol from where it is produced (the liver) and transports it towards othery body organs and tissues. A second type of carrier, generally called HDL (high-density lipoprotein) ensures the return trip towards the recycling site (again the liver), cleansing the tissues of their cholesterol excess.

If there is a discrepancy between the amount of the two types of lipoprotein, the human body cannot function properly. Actually, the condition known as “cholesterol”  refers to the fats deposited in tissues and arteries, getting the latter ones “clogged” by  creating atherosclerotic plaques that reduce or stop the blood flow. This appears when the HDL (also called good cholesterol) is not sufficient to clean the blood vessels. The main risks associated with a high cholesterol level are stroke, heart attack and arthritis.

In order to reduce the amount of bad cholesterol and increase the level of the good one, a few lifestyle rules are compulsory. Besides exercising (which builds a more rapid metabolism), dietary habits are also subject to change as those suffering from this condition are advised to avoid saturated fats and to include a great amount of fibers in their nutrition. Smoking, alcohol and sweets are to be avoided, but spices, garlic and onion are highly recommended.

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