Let’s get something straight from the on start; cholesterol is an essential compound in humans and for that matter in the entire animal kingdom.
The idea that the cholesterol molecule is ‘bad’ is just plain inaccurate. Animals use cholesterol as their building blocks for cell membranes and other structural components. Cholesterol is the basic structural building block for hormones and other molecules essential to humans.
What is Good and Bad Cholesterol?
In actuality there is only good cholesterol until there is an over accumulation of cholesterol in the artery cells and in the peripheral cells.
LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol particles (notoriously called bad cholesterol) carry cholesterol from the liver to receptor sites on the endothelial and peripheral cells. From the receptor sites the cholesterol is then transported for cellular repair and construction.
HDL (High- Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol particles (commonly called good cholesterol) are the primary reverse transport system which carries away excess cholesterol from the artery and peripheral cells to its destination the liver. The excess returned cholesterol is then either converted by the liver into cholesterol bile acids or excreted into bile as free cholesterol, which is then sent to the colon.
Hence the Problem:
In the delivery of cholesterol there are three (3) pathways or routes to arterial vessels and peripheral cells.
1). Lipid absorption
2). Endogenous (produced by the liver).
3). Exogenous (food intake).
The over accumulation of cholesterol can occur in all three (3) pathways resulting in atheroselerosis in the artery cells. The LDL delivery system from the liver presents the biggest threat for cholesterol buildup. Free radicals found in the bloodstream attack and oxidize the LDL cholesterol and chemically change it so that the receptor sites on the artery cell walls can no longer recognize the LDL, so it is rejected. Hence come the Macrophages, scavenger cells from our immune system which also have receptor sites. The Macrophages recognize that the LDL oxidized cholesterol at the endothelial artery lining. This is where the problem begins with cholesterol. Since the source of macrophages in the blood are for the most part iron and copper, which in turn act as a catalyst taking what is hydrogen peroxide and converting it into a potent hydroxyl radical.
Macrophages analysis the oxidized cholesterol molecule (OXY-LDL) as an enemy or an invader and treat the oxidized cholesterol as if it were bacteria. The macrophages envelop the oxidized cholesterol particle through a process called Phagocytesis. Ultimately the particle is sent back further into the arterial wall or the cholesterol particle appears as a fused fatty nodule on the wall of the artery. Eventually other protectors in our immune system add to the fight and the whole cholesterol particle becomes a foamy cell. Sometimes oxidized LDL in small quantities can be disposed of in the artery by absorption or by breaking down the small nodule. Usually the buildup is too large to be broken down entirely and in fact the buildup continues unabated. This buildup leads to calcification, which invariably produces a bulge in the wall of the artery. If the extended nodule continues to grow, the flow of blood to and from the heart will be dangerously challenged and may result in blockage which can lead to such conditions as coronary arteries and carotid or vertebral arteries leading to the brain.
It has been established through research in patient studies that there are two (2) ways that oxidized LDL cholesterol can be formed.
1). Membrane damage of LDL fatty acids by metal ions (mostly iron in the blood).
2). Enzymatic damage unrelated or independent to metal ions
The researchers concluded that there are two (2) forms of oxidized LDL cholesterol.
1). OXY-LDL is a marker for coronary atheroselerosis.
2). MDA-Modified LDL a marker for artery plaque creation.
Antioxidants to the Rescue:
It is important that cholesterol is transported through the blood freely and unobstructed. The antioxidant level of the blood needs to be sufficiently high to abate free radicals before they attack the LDL particle. Additionally fat-soluble antioxidant levels of the LDL particle need to be high enough to thwart the oxidation of fatty acids (Phosholipids). Water-soluble antioxidants are important in the prevention of formation of oxidizes cholesterol in LDL particles and in blood in general.
Some key antioxidants are vitamins A, C, and E. others include green tea, bilberry, rosemary, lutein, and N-acetyl cysteine. Taking a regimented dose of antioxidant supplements has an important role in reducing the damaging effects of lipid oxidation.
Our body was created perfectly without flaw, only when outside and foreign elements are introduced do we initiate a disease or an imbalance. Cholesterol in its purest form is harmless and essential to our bodily functions. Without the proper amounts of antioxidants in our blood, oxidation of LDL can occur in the blood and on the artery wall and lead to the formation of altherosclerosis. Supplementation of essential antioxidants is critical in an overall healthy body. Natural health products are the purest forms of supplementation.