Cholesterol is an organic compound belonging to the family of steroidal lipids . It is an essential element of our body as it is a component of cell membranes regulating fluidity and permeability ;
it is the precursor of steroid hormones , both male and female (testosterone, progesterone, cortisol, etc. . ), vitamin D and bile salts .
However, high levels of cholesterol are very dangerous for your health.
Foods high in cholesterol are :eggs, butter , meat , cheese and some shellfish (shrimps, prawns).
Approximately 80-90 % of the total cholesterol is produced by our own body , especially liver , adrenal gland and sex glands . This is the reason why some people, despite a regular diet and a regular program of physical activity, maintain high levels of cholesterol. When endogenous production is physiologically high it is called familial hypercholesterolemia .
In general hypercholesterolemia is characterized by a higher concentration of cholesterol in the blood.
Please check typical values:
<200 mg / dl Cholesterol Normal
200-249 mg / dl mild hypercholesterolemia
250-299 mg / dl Moderate Hypercholesterolemia
> 299 mg / dl Severe Hypercholesterolemia
Cholesterol binds mainly to low-density lipoprotein or LDL (the so-called bad cholesterol) . It is estimated that approximately 70 % of the total cholesterol is linked to LDL.
The excess cholesterol linked to these lipoproteins tends to accumulate on the endothelium of the arteries , forming aggregates increasingly dense up to generate real plaques , called atheromas .
These plaques are deteriorating the natural elasticity of the arteries and cause severe damage to the heart (heart attack) or the brain (stroke).
Good cholesterol is represented by the HDL ( high density lipoprotein ) that clean the arteries capturing and transferring excess cholesterol to tissues, where it is disposed of .
HDL should not be less than 30% of total cholesterol (LDL + HDL) or, using the index of cardiovascular risk which correlates total cholesterol and HDL, if ratio is greater than 5 in men and 4.5 in women, the patient is considered at risk.
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