Definition of Cholesterol – Main Functions and Uses
Did you know that cholesterol is a molecule involved in many different functions and is vital to our bodies?
Although cholesterol itself is misunderstood to be harmful to our health, it is actually an essential element for the proper functioning of our body as long as our cholesterol levels are normal. In fact, cholesterol is essential to our body, so there is no doubt that it is a necessary fat for the proper functioning of the body. However, if its level is higher than the recommended value, it can indeed be harmful to our health.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat or lipid that is involved in various important physiological processes. As such, it is considered an essential molecule for our body and our health. In other words, it is a substance that is naturally present in our body. In fact, it is present in high concentrations in the liver, brain, pancreas and spinal cord.
It is a steroidal fat, consisting of a single molecule of cyclopentane perhydrophenanthrene, a condensation or fusion of four carboxylated compounds. Most of the cholesterol naturally present in the body is also produced by the liver, but eventually, a small amount is ingested from the foods we eat every day.
How Many Types of Cholesterol Are There?
So far, three different types of cholesterol have been identified, and I say “so far” because until recently, it was thought that there were actually two: LDL cholesterol and what is called HDL cholesterol.
However, a few years ago, a new type of cholesterol was discovered called MGmin-LDL cholesterol, which is apparently much worse than LDL or bad cholesterol because it is more viscous, sticks to the artery walls, and has a much greater ability to form large amounts of fatty plaque. Much worse.
LDL or bad cholesterol: is a low-density lipoprotein that transports cholesterol from the liver to various tissues in our body. Under normal conditions, it becomes an essential lipid for our body. However, when its levels are too high, it can accumulate in the walls of blood vessels, causing them to narrow and increasing the risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
HDL or good cholesterol: It is a high-density lipoprotein that carries the cholesterol present in the arteries to the liver, where it is then excreted. This is why it is very important to consume it in the recommended amounts and levels, as it is very healthy for the heart.
MGmin-LDL cholesterol: is a recently discovered cholesterol that is similar to LDL cholesterol, but has the characteristic that it can be sticky, so it sticks more easily to the arteries.
The function of cholesterol: what does it do?
Cholesterol is arguably the true raw material for the formation of steroid hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. It also provides fluidity to cell membranes and prevents them from being damaged.
In addition, cholesterol includes
- Bile salts: are necessary for good digestion.
- Vitamin D: essential for calcium metabolism and vital for bones.
Of course, let’s not forget one important thing: excess cholesterol is essential for our health, since it is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular, formation of aneurysms and plaques that impede good blood circulation in the blood vessels. But let’s go through the pieces.
Contributes To Hormone Production
Cholesterol is particularly useful for hormone production because it is stored in the ovaries, adrenal glands and testes before being converted into steroid hormones. These hormones are necessary for certain vital functions, and without them, the body would become dysfunctional.
Helps with Fat Digestion
Paradoxically, the truth is that cholesterol is necessary for the proper digestion of fats. How so? The liver uses cholesterol to make bile, which is necessary for the proper digestion of food, especially fat.
Cholesterol Helps Repair Cells and Is an Antioxidant.
HDL cholesterol is an antioxidant lipid that helps reduce the negative effects of free radicals, which are directly linked to premature cellular aging and damage. In addition, cholesterol is an essential component of cell membranes and is therefore critical for cellular repair. On the other hand, it is also involved in the formation of new cells.
Precursors of Vitamin D
Cholesterol contributes to the production of vitamin D, which is an important precursor of this vitamin. In fact, sunlight is able to convert cholesterol into vitamin D.