Cholesterol is NOT bad for your health

You will collect the results of the blood test that you did a few weeks ago routinely, and as prevention. All values ​​are fine, except for cholesterol levels, which are high. Suddenly, thousands of doubts assail you: what will happen to me? Am I going to die? Is it dangerous? Why is cholesterol so bad for your health? The reality is that neither cholesterol by itself is bad, nor will you probably die for having it high (as long as you change certain lifestyle habits, such as following a varied and healthy diet, practice regular physical exercise, and do not smoke do not drink alcohol).

But why have we tended to think that Cholesterol is bad for your health? Probably the fault of all those commercials that, for some years now, constantly bombard us on television, and that point to cholesterol as an enemy to be fought, unnecessarily alarming the population, and above all lying: cholesterol, always at normal levels, is essential for the proper functioning of the body. Let's see why.

Why is cholesterol essential for our body?

Very simple: it is a lipid that actively participates in very important functions for our body. That is, our body needs it to be able to carry out a wide variety of different and different life processes, so that without cholesterol we simply could not live.

Actively participates in the following basic functions:

  • Fundamental for our cells: it is part of the plasmatic membranes, finding it in small quantities in the cell membranes. Allows or not the passage of substances. In addition, it participates in physiological processes related to these membranes.
  • Precursor of sex hormones: like testosterone, progesterone and estrogen. These hormones allow the development of sexual characteristics, and are fundamental for proper and correct fertility.
  • Precursor of corticosteroidal hormones: as cortisol and aldosterone, which activate the synthesis of glucose and have an anti-inflammatory activity.
  • Precursor of the vitamin D: essential in the calcium metabolism.
  • Component of bile salts: In fact it is the basic component. Its function is to help in the digestion of fats.
  • Precursor of lipid rafts: lipid rafts are microdomains of the plasma membrane whose fluidity is much lower than that of their environment. They are involved in a large number of cellular functions, such as cholesterol homeostasis, the response to pathogen invasion and signal transduction.

When is cholesterol a risk to health?

Once we have started from the idea that cholesterol is fundamental to our health, we must bear in mind that it is not really bad when it is at normal levels. And what are the normal cholesterol values? Normal values ​​are considered below 200 mg / dl of total cholesterol, and normal-high between 200 and 240 mg / dl.

When it is above these values, high cholesterol or hypercholesterolemia is diagnosed, and from this moment on we do have cholesterol values ​​that pose a risk to our health, since:

  • It is associated with a higher risk of the onset of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Multiplies the risk of strokes or heart attacks.
  • It increases the risk of angina pectoris, due to the lack of blood supply to a part of the heart.

We also can not forget the existence of two types of cholesterol: LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol, which in turn have different basic functions in our body.

For example, while LDL cholesterol transports cholesterol from the liver to different organs and tissues, HDL cholesterol acts on the bad, preventing it from "stuck" in the arteries.

Likewise, when the LDL or bad cholesterol levels are high, it also becomes a health risk, since it adheres to the walls of the blood vessels, narrowing them. Therefore it is important to maintain good cholesterol levels or HDL at optimal levels (between 40 and 70 mg / dl), as it prevents the formation of plaque, the accumulation of fat and also helps to eliminate cholesterol from the blood.

As we see, it is convenient to banish the idea that cholesterol is bad for our health. On the other hand, if high blood cholesterol levels appear in your blood levels, do not be alarmed: you can easily get off following a healthy and active lifestyle.

Images | Ed Uthman / eric molina This article is published for informational purposes only. You can not and should not replace the consultation with a Nutritionist. We advise you to consult your trusted Nutritionist. ThemesCholesterol

LDL and HDL Cholesterol | Good and Bad Cholesterol | Nucleus Health (July 2022)