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Knowledge Zone

Category: News and Insights


National Cholesterol Month (October 2015) - ‘The Great Cholesterol Challenge’

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Why is it important to understand cholesterol?
High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease and today heart disease accounts for greater than 45% of all deaths - nevertheless 75% of people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels.

There are two types of cholesterol:  LDL cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible, making it harder for the heart to circulate blood. Plaque can break open and cause blood clots. If a clot blocks an artery that feeds the brain, it causes a stroke. HDL cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from the arteries.

Why is cholesterol important?
Cholesterol is essential for metabolism and is a major component of the blood. It is vital to hormone production and metabolizes all the fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K, the body cannot function without cholesterol. It is estimated that about 20 per cent of cholesterol levels in your blood come from your diet, which means the rest is produced by your liver and is actually needed by the body.

Cholesterol is used to help the liver create bile which aids us in digesting the food that we eat. Without the bile our bodies are unable to properly digest foods, especially fats. When the fat goes undigested it can get into the bloodstream and cause additional problems such as blockages of the arteries and cause heart attacks and heart disease.

Also, 25% of the cholesterol in our body is found in the brain. It works to facilitate membrane function and is the raw material for making progesterone, oestrogen, cortisol, testosterone and vitamin D.

How does the body make cholesterol?
Your liver manufactures most of the cholesterol in your blood. It adjusts according to what you ingest and is transported through the bloodstream by different types of lipoproteins.

Everything in moderation
Following a healthy lifestyle such as regular exercise and a balanced diet will help control cholesterol and blood pressure. However, cholesterol plays a very important part in the body and understanding its relevance is something everyone should be aware of.