Cholesterol is a waxy or pliable substance that is released by the liver and is circulated by the bloodstream. Humans as well as other animals use cholesterol to build their cell membranes. It does not dissolved in the blood which is why it combines with proteins to build lipoproteins allowing it to circulate.
Lipoproteins have three types and they make up the total cholesterol level in the body. First is the bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein. The good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein is another type and it carries cholesterol out of the tissues to the liver. It can also protect the heart. The third type which is not necessarily a risk factor for diseases of the heart is Triglycerides. However, it can be associated with other health diseases like diabetes.
The liver releases 1,000 mg of cholesterol on a daily basis, the amount that the body requires. Cholesterol can also be obtained in your diet from fats, meats and dairy products.
Saturated fats found in red meat, tropical oils and hydrogenated vegetable oils have very high cholesterol content. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can help remove cholesterol from the body. It is important to note that all fats even those that are considered good for your health have high calorie content that could result to high cholesterol levels and overweight.
A healthy diet alone cannot control cholesterol and there are many factors that contribute to higher levels of cholesterol. One of the most important factors is heredity and genetics determines if the body produces high levels of LDL and cholesterol is quickly eliminated.
Having excess weight can raise the LDL levels of the body. Exercise and weight loss diet can help lower the LDL and increase HDL while triglycerides levels reduce.
The level of cholesterol also rises with age, especially after 50. Women have lower cholesterol levels compared to men because women have hormone estrogen. But the hormone levels fall after menopause and women tend to get higher cholesterol levels than men at this period.