Cholesterol is a steroid found within the body which plays a key role in many biological processes and is essential in maintaining proper cellular function. It is produced naturally by the liver but also occurs in animal fats which serve as an extra source of this compound.
If left unchecked cholesterol can damage arterial walls which leads to a reduced flow of blood to important organs such as the heart or brain. Understanding the facts about cholesterol and fat intake is key to maintaining a healthy diet and reducing your chances of developing coronary heart disease.
Although the body can synthesise triglycerides they are a major constituent of meat, dairy products and vegetable oils, so our diets provide the body with excess amounts of this fat, which may be saturated or unsaturated.
Lipoproteins are substances which can transport insoluable cholesterol and triglyceride through the bloodstream. They are characterised as being either high density (HDL) or low density (LDL). HDL is favourable in high concentrations as it is believed to affect the transport and excretion of cholesterol from the arteries through the liver. Conversly, LDL is often called ‘bad’ cholesterol as it transports cholesterol and triglycerides in the opposite direction.
If you would like to find out more about cholesterol and how to control it through a healthy lifestyle, consult your local health professional. The Heart Foundation also provides a wealth of useful and informative material on heart health which may be found on their website.
Cho-les-ter-ol [kuh-les-tuh-rohl] noun – A fatty alcohol found in all animal fats, tissues, and fluids, an excess of which is thought to contribute to heart and artery disease
In Australia the Heart Foundation recommends that lipids are maintained within the following limits:
CHOL < 4 mmol/L
LDL < 2.5 mmol/L
HDL > 1 mmol/L
TRIG < 1.5 mmol/L