The disturbing truth about cholesterol
“Cholesterol-free”, “Lowers cholesterol” are just but a few labels on popular oil brands in any Kenyan supermarket which insinuates the need to avoid cholesterol. However, on the contrary, studies have shown that a certain amount of cholesterol is in fact beneficial or does not harm the human body.
According to the US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a 2014 survey of about 636,151 individuals from 15 countries at risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes was carried out.
It was discovered that consumption of butter which is considered to have high cholesterol, was inadequately associated with mortality rates among the individuals surveyed.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol, the feared substance, is a waxy compound similar to the texture of molten candle wax. It is a type of fat called “sterol” which is found in the tissues of plants and animals.
The human body’s liver manufactures cholesterol. The liver uses cholesterol to make bile which plays an essential role in the processing and digestion of fats. Other sources of cholesterol come from the diet.
What are the benefits of cholesterol in the human body?
Before we delve into the good and bad cholesterol sources, it is important to understand the benefits of cholesterol in the human body.
Jennifer Moll, author of “Why Some Cholesterol Does Good in Your Body” has given a list of activities in how cholesterol plays a role in the body. First of all, cholesterol is important in the creation of critical hormones such as cortisol the stress hormone.
Cholesterol also makes sex hormones such as testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. While cholesterol plays a role in forming and maintaining cell membranes and structures, it is used by nerve cells for insulation.
It can also be inserted between fat molecules that make up the cell and make the membrane more fluid. Cells also rely on cholesterol to help them adjust to changes in temperature.
Good and bad cholesterol
Cholesterol is a combination of fat lipids and protein. There are various forms of cholesterol;
1. HDL (High-density Lipoprotein)
HDL is considered as “good cholesterol” as it carries cholesterol from parts of your body to the liver. The liver then removes the cholesterol from the body.
2. LDL (Low-density lipoprotein)
LDL is considered as “bad cholesterol” due to the fact that increased LDL levels lead to a build-up of plaque in the arteries just like VLDL.
3. VLDL (Very low-density lipoprotein)
VLDL carries triglycerides which are referred to as blood fats while LDL mainly carries cholesterol.
Sources of good cholesterol
Good sources of foods that have good cholesterol include One cup of full-fat yogurt which contains 31.9 mg of cholesterol.
Fish of about 92 grams of sardines contains 131 milligrams of cholesterol. Other dietary sources of good cholesterol include organ meats such as liver, kidney, and heart and dairy products such as eggs and cheese.
Sources of bad cholesterol
On the other hand, bad cholesterol dietary sources include processed meats such as bacon, hot dogs, and sausages of which have been linked to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Fast foods such as French fries and fried foods such as deep-fried meats can also lead to a rise in bad cholesterol levels in the body.