Cholesterol – why is in your blood?

March 2, 2023

Cholesterol, depending on who you speak to, has become a dirty word. World over, people are going to great lengths to lower their numbers. In particular, their blood cholesterol. But why is it in your blood in the first place?

To understand this, we need to understand the role of cholesterol and how it is made in your body. Your body uses fat in many ways. To build the membrane of your cells, a thin film-like structure that envelopes cells. Your body uses it to digest vitamins such as Vitamin D. But your body does not produce cholesterol at the cellular level.

Instead, it trusts the liver to make cholesterol. A very tiny amount comes from the food you eat, but the bulk of the cholesterol is made internally by your liver. The liver then has to send it everywhere. New cells use the cholesterol to make cell walls etc. It is for this reason that it gets into your blood. Your blood then transports it through your entire body. It is your internal train system delivering oxygen, fat, glucose and other nutrients to your body.

Here is where it can get tricky. Normally, your fat is stored inside a carrier. The shell of the carrier is made up of proteins. Trapped within this protein wrapper are your fat cells or cholesterol. It is being transported to all parts of your body, as required.

Sometimes, during this transportation, the fat cells, especially a type of fat cell known as Lipoprotein A, which is sticky, stay in your bloodstream. It could be because the body has more than it needs. When it does, due to its sticky nature, it starts to stick to the walls of your arteries. If this goes on for a while, it creates plaque. Slowly you will develop blockages and increase your cardiovascular risk. Managing the amount in your blood is one way to reduce your risk, one of the reasons cholesterol has developed such a bad name.

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