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Cholesterol - What is it?

Bad Cholesterol

Cholesterol is an essential part of every cell structure and is needed for proper brain and nerve function. It is also the basis for the manufacture of sex hormones. Cholesterol is manufactured in the liver and transported through the blood stream to the sites where it is needed. It is a fatty substance and because blood is mainly water, it has to latch on to molecules called lipo-proteins to travel around successfully. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL's ) are the major transporters of cholesterol in the blood stream and because LDL seem to encourage the deposit of cholesterol in the arteries, it is known as the "bad cholesterol".

They are considered to be a contributor to plaque building up in the arteries and impeded blood flow to the brain, kidneys, genitals, extremities and heart. It is among the primary cause of heart disease, because cholesterol produces deposits in arteries. High cholesterol levels may also be implicated in gallstone, impotence (although it is often the drugs prescribed for high cholesterol that causes this), mental impairment, and high blood pressure.

Sunlight, or rather lack of it, has been shown to have adverse effects in cholesterol levels. In large amounts, coffee can elevate blood cholesterol levels, more than doubling the risk of heart disease. Certain drugs can elevate cholesterol levels. These include steroids, high dose contraceptives (oral), lasix and other diuretics, and other medicines that treat parkinson's disease like sinemet, dopar, levodopa. And beta-blockers often prescribed to control high blood pressure. Check with your Doctor if you are taking any of these medications or any other medications that might affect high cholesterol levels.

Many people use margarine or vegetable shortening as substitute for butter because they contain no cholesterol. However, these products contain compounds called cis-and trans-fatty acids that become oxidized when exposed to heat and can clog arteries. They have been linked to the formation of damaging free radicals. Reduce the amount of saturated fats, they include all fats of animal origin, as well as coconut and palm kernel oils. Eliminate from the diet all hydrogenated fats, hardened fats, oils such as margarine, lard and butter and eat high fiber foods. Try to avoid stress and sustained tension. Eat food rich in Omega 3 like salmon and tuna and also eat bitter melon. Many health expert that these foods are really very effective to lower your cholesterol level.

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