What is

Facts about Cholesterol

  • Cholesterol is actually an alcohol but have properties similar to fat
  • Cholesterol is not found in plants
  • We get our cholesterol from the body's own production and from food.
  • Particularly saturated fat in the diet are important for the content of LDL cholesterol in the blood. Saturated fat comes mainly from dairy fat, but also from animal fats.
  • Oxycholesterol is oxidated cholesterol. It is a very harmfulI substance in the body commonly formed from the reaction of fats and oxygen during high temperature cooking


What is cholesterol?

In contrast to common belief, cholesterol is not always a “culprit”. It is a vital substance which the human body depends on for normal functioning. As long as our cholesterol is not oxidized and levels stay within a normal, healthy range, there is no problem.

  • Cholestrol is a color-, odor- and tasteless unsaturated steroid alcohol
  • Cholesterol is an essential constituent of cell membranes and therefore of value to the entire body. Also, cholesterol is a precursor of many of the body’s natural steroid hormones and for D-vitamin, which is one of the most important vitamins in the body
  • 80% of the cholesterol in the body gets produced from within, mostly by the liver. From there it is carried by way of the bloodstream to other tissues. We also get cholesterol from certain foods

Cholesterol travels through the blood in small “packages” incorporated in large molecules known as lipoproteins and are combinations of protein and fat. There are four main groups of lipoproteins:

  • HDL (high-density lipoprotein)
  • LDL (low-density lipoprotein)
  • VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein)
  • Chylomicrons

Each group has specific functions in the body.

HDL – also known as “good cholesterol” – gathers excess cholesterol in the bloodstream and brings it back to the liver where it is re-processed. Raised HDL levels are associated with cardiovascular protection.

LDL – or “bad cholesterol” – conveys cholesterol from the liver and deposits in different places, including the lining of the arteries. This causes the formation of cholesterol plaque and, over time, thickening of the artery walls and narrowing of the arteries (this process is called atherosclerosis).

VLDL – conveys endogenous triglycerides, phospholipids, cholesterol, and cholesteryl esters. It functions as the body's internal transport mechanism for lipids. A high VLDL level is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease.

Chylomicrons – large lipoprotein particles that consist of triglycerides, phospholipids, cholesterol and proteins. They transport dietary lipids from the intestines to the liver and to fat tissue. A fatty meal will fill the blood with chylomicrons.

Illustration below: A healthy artery is wide open because there is no arterial plaque that clogs it up. When blood fats like cholesterol and triglycerides get oxidised, they turn into sticky plaque that narrows the passage through the artery.

Healthy and clogged arterie

The right balance

What is important is the ratio – or balance - between HDL and LDL. The more LDL and the less HDL you have, the worse off you are. On the other hand, relatively high HDL and low LDL is considered healthy. Factors that contribute to healthy HDL levels include exercise, a modest alcohol intake, and certain foods such as fish (because of their omega-3 content).