A vital component of cell membranes, cholesterol is produced by the liver and other tissues as part of the synthesis process. Cholesterol has many functions within the body, including regulating cholesterol synthesis and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. However, Cholesterol is also considered one of the most toxic substances known to man. One of the primary ways Cholesterol leads to health problems is by clogging the arteries. Because of this, people with high levels of Cholesterol often suffer from serious ailments, such as Coronary Heart Disease and stroke.
Cholesterol molecules are large water-soluble organic compounds. Their function is to bond together with other molecules such as amino acids, fatty acids and hormones. In fact, it is the chemical structure of the Cholesterol molecule itself that makes them soluble in water and fat, making them capable of being absorbed into the bloodstream. However, Cholesterol itself is not soluble in water, but rather only partially soluble, making it particularly important to the skin and blood vessels. Here are some of the factors that can lead to high cholesterol levels, or to clogging of the blood stream.
Type One Diabetes – If a person has been diagnosed with Type One Diabetes, their chances of having high Cholesterol levels are very high. Most doctors will test the patient’s triglycerides (fatty deposits in the bloodstream) and Lp (a blood test marker for cholesterol levels), both of which can be affected by high Cholesterol levels. If the doctor finds that your triglyceride levels are too high, he will usually prescribe insulin, which will force the body to turn to fat for energy. Once the body begins to use fat for energy, its size will become larger and so the liver will produce more Cholesterol to compensate for the increased need for fuel, causing an increase in its concentration in the blood stream.
Obesity – Overweight individuals tend to have fatty deposits accumulating around their neck and in the fatty layers of the arteries. These can become inflamed and enlarged, causing the buildup of Cholesterol and Fat deposits in the blood stream. When this occurs, the flow of blood to the heart becomes hindered, and the heart failure stroke may occur. Weight loss and exercise may help to reduce the Cholesterol levels and the risk for cardiovascular disease.
Other Causes – There are other causes of high levels of Cholesterol. Some medications, especially some anti-depressants, may increase the Cholesterol in the bloodstream. There are also certain types of food, such as those rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, that can raise Cholesterol levels. Also, many people who suffer from some type of heart attack may experience high levels of Cholesterol. The buildup of Cholesterol in the arteries is one of the main reasons why a person may develop a heart attack. Heart attacks caused by high levels of Cholesterol may require surgery to remove the affected blood vessel.
High HDL Levels – High density lipoproteins or HDL are another reason why there is so much Cholesterol in the blood stream. This is because HDL carries fat away from the arteries, while LDL carries fat that collects in the arteries and in the heart. An ideal cholesterol level is around half of the high density lipoprotein, or about a teaspoon for every two cups of milk.
A Low HDL Diet – Many people have been told to take a cholesterol control supplement when they are on a low fat or low carbohydrate diet. This is because a high fiber diet is often associated with a low fat, low carbohydrate diet. When a person has a diet that is full of saturated fat, they are more likely to have high Cholesterol levels. Foods such as eggs, fatty meat, and some dairy products can raise Cholesterol levels in the blood stream.
Medications – Sometimes, Cholesterol can become “locked” in the blood vessels. This means that the liver does not have enough of the necessary substances to remove the Cholesterol from the blood stream. When this happens, the Cholesterol becomes “locked” in the blood vessels and begins to cause inflammation. When this occurs, the cholesterol “leads” to the formation of “atherosclerosis” or heart disease. Even prescription medication can have this effect, so it is important to avoid prescription medicines that contain cholesterol-like substances.