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The Biological Sciences

Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid which is found in all your body cells. Cholesterol is needed to make hormones, vitamin D, and help you to digest foods. It's mainly made by the liver, but can be found in some foods from animal sources, such as egg yolks, meat, and cheese. Too much cholesterol can cause plaque build-up.

Cholesterol in your blood is carried by proteins. When the 2 combine, they're called lipoproteins. Different types of lipoproteins have different purposes:

  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
    It carries cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver, where it's passed out of the body as a waste product; hence, HDL is referred to as "good cholesterol".

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
    It carries cholesterol to the cells, but if there's too much cholesterol for the cells to use, it can build up in the artery walls, leading to the buildup of plaque in your arteries; hence, LDL is known as "bad cholesterol".

  • Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL)
    It's also called "bad" cholesterol because it too contributes to the buildup of plaque in your arteries. But VLDL and LDL are different; VLDL mainly carries triglycerides and LDL mainly carries cholesterol.

High cholesterol itself doesn't usually cause any symptoms. Plaques can cause the hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and increasing the risk of numerous health problems, including heart disease and stroke.

The amount of cholesterol in the blood, both HDL and LDL, can be measured with a blood test. The general guide for cholesterol normal range for healthy adults is as follows:

  • Total cholesterol: 5.2 mmol/L or less
  • LDL: 3 mmol/L or less
  • HDL: above 1 mmol/L
  • Non HDL: < 3.4 mmol/L
  • Ratio of total cholesterol to HDL: below 4

Undesirably low level of HDL or high level of LDL, or both, increases the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Common risk factors contributing to abnormal cholesterol level include genetics, age, overweight, certain medication and unhealthy lifestyle such as eating saturated fat, trans-fat and dietary cholesterol, lack of physical activity, drinking excessive amount of alcohol and smoking.

Nonetheless, you can lower your cholesterol through heart-healthy lifestyle changes, includes a heart-healthy cholesterol lowering foods, weight management, and regular physical activity. And, check out the cholesterol content of your foods.

Healthy cholesterol, healthy heart!

Clinical evidence suggested that essential nutrients can help in lowering cholesterol and beneficial to body systems.

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