Cholesterol is a fatty, viscous substance produced by the liver. This substance has many purposes inside the body and in normal amounts it is benefic for the proper activity of the organism. Cholesterol has a very important role in protecting blood cells from damage, by covering their superficial membrane. The body also uses cholesterol in producing bile acids (which are vital in digestion of fat), vitamin D and hormones (testosterone and estrogen).
The body requires very small quantities of cholesterol to sustain its normal activity. When cholesterol is produced in excess, this substance accumulates in the bloodstream and deposits in different places of the organism. Excess cholesterol adheres to the interior walls of arteries, soft tissues and body organs, obstructing the normal blood flow. Like many other fats, cholesterol can’t be dissolved by the blood and therefore it can easily build up inside the body, causing a lot of harm. If cholesterol blocks the coronary arteries it can cause cardio-vascular diseases and even heart-attack.
Many people have high blood cholesterol levels and therefore they are exposed to heart disease. Age, gender and genetic heritage are all factors of risk in heart disease due to high blood cholesterol levels. Men are more predisposed to having abnormal blood cholesterol levels than women. People with ages over 50 also have cholesterol problems, as their bodies can’t eliminate the surplus substance. Overweight people, people with internal disorders and people with diabetes have high blood cholesterol levels due to overproduction of this substance inside the body.
Apart from internal dysfunctions that cause an overproduction of cholesterol, the excessive accumulation of this substance is also facilitated by other factors like inappropriate diet, lack of physical exercise, smoking and the consumption of alcohol. Inappropriate diet rich in saturated fats and simple carbohydrates greatly contributes to blood cholesterol build up. Foods like fatty meats (pork, poultry), organ meats (heart, liver, kidneys), fat dairy products (milk, cheese, butter), chocolate, peanuts considerably increase blood cholesterol levels. Smoking also causes a lot of harm to arteries and facilitates the accumulation of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Smoking is a major factor of risk in heart disease and many people who have abnormally high blood cholesterol levels are smokers. Alcohol abuse is also a factor of risk in heart disease, as it also raises blood cholesterol levels.
Whether high blood cholesterol is the consequence of internal dysfunctions or the consequence of unhealthy lifestyle and diet, it is important to take steps in normalizing its values. Avoid smoking, the consumption of alcohol and fatty foods if you have high blood cholesterol levels. An appropriate diet rich in unsaturated fat, complex carbohydrates and natural fibers can help eliminate blood cholesterol deposits and can also prevent its excess accumulation inside the body. Regular physical exercise is another good means of improving blood circulation and hence, decongesting the arteries clogged with cholesterol.