Why is Cholesterol so Unhealthy?

The funny thing is that Cholesterol itself isn’t bad at all. The real problem comes with, as many things do, excess Cholesterol.

That doesn’t mean of course, that you should go out and consume as much cholesterol as possible because you read it somewhere online.  It’s vitally important to understand exactly what cholesterol is and what it isn’t.

First: Cholesterol is not a bad word.

Second: t is necessary and essential for your survival.

Third: Too much can kill you.

Cholesterol is an organic substance.  For all of you who took organic chemistry can attest – CHOLESTEROL can be broken down into three areas    CHOL – (bile)      STEROS – (Solid)   and   OL – (Alcohol).  For those of you who are clearly smarter than the rest of us by not taking organic chemistry – [and trust me…you are smarter] – Cholesterol is a waxy piece of fat.

This waxy piece of fat is a substance (one of many) that makes up the cellular wall of animal cells, including humans.  Imagine you take a piece of paper and wrapped it end to end into a circle. The actual paper would be the cell wall. If you took a pen and dotted the paper several hundred times, this would represent Cholesterol.  In some cell types there are more Cholesterol and in other cell types there are less.

One may ask where Cholesterol is synthesized within the body.  The answer is THE LIVER … and other organs and parts of the body as well.


The real problem therefore is Excess Cholesterol

Since you and I make cholesterol in our own bodies, excess cholesterol can occur because of two main reasons.

1.)    Overproduction in our own body.

2.)    Excessive dietary source from our foods.

Major dietary sources of Cholesterol are animal products including: beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, shrimp and others.

Cholesterol is not found in plants or vegetables.

Two key words that are not well talked about when dealing with elevated Cholesterol are Atheroma and Atherosclerosis. Have you heard of these words before?

Atheroma deals with the swelling or enlargement of an artery because of the buildup of cholesterol in that artery. Others may call this process – Plaques.

Atherosclerosis is the name of the condition where atheroma’s occur.  This in addition to a process of  calcification or hardening of that area.

The thickening of the arteries leads to very significant and possibly life threatening conditions including: Heart attack (MI, or Myocardial infarction), stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and others.

Cholesterol can be checked at by your primary care physician through a lab test.  The goal of Cholesterol testing is to be below 200mg/dL.  This number was suggested back in 1987 by the National Cholesterol Education Program

The American Heart Association has a very similar range in their guidelines.

Mildly elevated Cholesterol may require dietary and exercise changes. But they also might indicate a need for medication that affects the synthesis of Cholesterol from within the body. Discussion with your medical provider should be done to determine if you have high cholesterol and if it is a risk for you.

Additional tests may be required to check the arteries themselves to see how “clogged” they may be. This should also be discussed with a medical provider.

Back to the first question: Why is Cholesterol so bad for you?  or better yet When…

The answer must therefore be:  When it becomes excessive!

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