Cholesterol has been demonised by the health industry in the past, however recently we know that dietary cholesterol is not as bad as previously thought. Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in every cell in your body. It plays a vital role in how your body works, and it is especially important in your brain, nerves and skin.
Cholesterol has three main jobs:
✅ It is part of the outer layer, or membrane, of all your cells
✅ It is used to make vitamin D and steroid hormones which keep your bones, teeth and muscles healthy
✅ It is used to make bile, which helps to digest the fats you eat
There are 2 types of cholesterol:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol
⬇️ LDL cholesterol
These lipoproteins contain lots of cholesterol so they are ‘low density’. Their job is to deliver cholesterol to the cells where it is needed. Too much can fur up the blood vessel walls, clogging them up. This can lead to health problems later on, such as heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. You do need some LDL cholesterol in your blood. It is when there is too much that it’s a problem.
⬆️ HDL cholesterol
These contain lots of protein and very little cholesterol. So they are ‘high density’. They carry cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver, which removes the cholesterol from the body and can help prevent disease.
👀 Where does it come from?
Your liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs. Your body also gets cholesterol directly from the food you eat (such as eggs, meats, and dairy products).
📈 What raises your cholesterol?
Your cholesterol and triglycerides can become raised for a number of reasons:
🧀 A diet high in saturated fats
🏃 Not being active enough, so the fats you eat are not used up for energy
🧬 Genetic conditions such as familial hypercholesterolaemia which is an inherited condition which can cause high cholesterol levels
🩺 Other medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes
In fact, we now know that dietary cholesterol does not equal high blood cholesterol!