So much has been written on cholesterol in the last several years that it is essential we attempt to explain why.
Cholesterol is not found in plants so it is not contained in fruits, vegetables and cereals such as oats and wheat but is manufactured in the liver and stored there from fat. Dairy products such as milk and yogurt also contain cholesterol.
Cholesterol, being an oily substance cannot mix with blood, just like oil cannot mix with water, so it is seen in the blood as an oily substance and this is more obvious if the quantity of cholesterol in the blood is high. When the level of cholesterol in the blood is higher than normal it can stick to the walls of the blood vessels thus narrowing the blood vessels like grease sticks to the walls of iron or plastic pipes. If this continues without treatment, the inside of the blood vessel becomes narrower and narrower and hardens until it is blocked causing stroke or heart attack depending on the vessel affected.
Blood cholesterol level can be controlled by what we eat, exercise and drugs.
1. What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the cover of body cells, brain, nerves, liver, kidney, and egg yolk. It is not found in plant foods. There are two types of cholesterol: High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) and Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL); HDL is said to be the good cholesterol while LDL is the bad cholesterol.
Cholesterol is manufactured in the body by the liver; about 85 percent of the total cholesterol required in the body while the balance 15percent is obtained directly from the animal food we eat (meat, poultry and dairy products).
2. Usefulness of cholesterol in the body
Cholesterol is essential for good health; it is a major component of the brain and nerve cells, it is a part of the cover of all the cells in the body, it is essential for the manufacture of some vitamins such as vitamin D, bile acids and several body chemical messengers (hormones) including the sex hormones.
3. Cholesterol level and diet
Foods rich in cholesterol include Egg Yolk, Chicken skin, Liver, Kidney, Fast Foods, Butter, Cheese, Sea foods, Processed meat and Red Meat. It is from these foods that we can get more than the cholesterol we need in the body. Therefore we can reduce our blood cholesterol level by cutting down on our red meat, liver, processed meat such as bacon, ham, sausage, kebabs and meat pies, milk and yogurt.
4. Diseases associated with high cholesterol Levels
Increased dietary cholesterol is said to be associated with increased risk of cancer of the colon and breast. The same is also said of heart and blood vessel diseases.
5. Cholesterol Level and Exercises
According to some research, diet and exercise can reduce the blood cholesterol level by up to 25 percent. Such exercises include cycling, swimming and using the thread mill.
6. Cholesterol level and weight
Obesity is associated with high blood cholesterol level but it has been found that young, fit and slim persons have been found to high cholesterol level.
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