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Cholesterol and Your Health
Is It The Demon It's Been Made Out to Be?
You may have thought that
cholesterol is dangerous. You may even have thought that consuming cholesterol in your diet increases your risk of
cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
Therefore, you may assume that to improve your health and decrease your chances of getting heart disease, stroke or
cancer that you need to reduce your intake of cholesterol. You would assume that would lower your blood cholesterol
levels and bring you out of the danger zone.
Is this true? To answer this question means understanding first what cholesterol is, and then what it does in the
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is sterol: a waxy lipid (meaning fat) compound that is found in animal
tissues. It performs a variety of essential functions in your body.
For example, it facilitates both the absorption and the transportation of fatty acids.
It is also a fundamental building block for a variety of your hormones. These include both your adrenal hormones
(cortisol, cortisone and aldosterone) and your sex hormones (progesterone, estrogens and testosterone).
Additionally, it plays a role in the function of your brain, your immune system and your heart health.
If cholesterol is so essential to your health, how did it develop the reputation of being
the devil in molecular form?
This shady reputation came about because it was seen that people who had heart disease or strokes also had high
cholesterol levels. So it was thought that cholesterol levels themselves were the problem.
But actually the body raises cholesterol levels in response to a problem. In other words, high cholesterol levels
are the body's attempt to keep itself healthy. The body raises these levels to deal with inflammation.
When the insides of the arteries and veins are inflamed, for example, the body sends cholesterol in to attempt to
patch the areas of inflammation. It's actually the inflammation that's the problem, and not the cholesterol
Blood Cholesterol Levels:
What's "Normal"? Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per
deciliter (dL) of blood.
Current standards define desirable total cholesterol levels as less than 200 mg/dL, with 200-239 mg/dL defined as
borderline high and 240 mg/dL and above high.
For low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, less than 100 mg/dL is considered optimal, 100-129 mg/dL near
optimal or above optimal, 130-159 mg/dL borderline high, 160-189 mg/dL high and 190 mg/dL and above very high.
It is worth noting that these standards were defined after initial studies which were conducted on only on men. It
remains to be seen whether the cholesterol levels defined as normal for the male body are actually best for a
Men's hormone requirements are much different than women's. Also, women's bodies have a different biochemistry and
metabolism than men, including hormonal production needs and responses, a fact that may seem obvious, but which has
not been recognized in many "scientific" studies, particularly earlier ones.
Here is a summary of health problems due to low cholesterol, along with a list of causes of inflammation
leading to high cholesterol:
BetterHealthBytes is a free, independent newletter filled with
insider tips for better health and greater well-being of body, mind, spirit, emotions and relationships. We welcome
requests for topics.
Pamela Levin, R.N.
September 13, 2011
For more information crucial to your health, visit
Tags: blood cholesterol levels dietary cholesterol blood cholesterol cholesterol myth cholesterol truth cholesterol heart disease risks of cholesterol cholesterol and health cholesterol disease
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