CholesterolMost of the time when we hear the word “cholesterol” we often think of fatty globules choking our arteries and causing heart attacks. However, there is another side of cholesterol that we often do not hear much about. Often we hear only the negative and none of the positive aspects of cholesterol.


To begin with about 70-75% of the cholesterol in your body is manufactured in your liver and another 10-15% from your small intestine, adrenals and sexual organs. The rest comes directly from our diet. So, essentially a “cholesterol problem” is primarily a “ liver problem” and from direct consumption of cholesterol from the diet. So, controlling cholesterol by avoiding foods that contain it is not very effective


Cholesterol is an important and vital component of all cellular membranes. Cholesterol and saturated fats make the membranes firmer. Without them they would be more fluid and flabby. Different cells use different amounts of cholesterol in their membranes, some up to 50%! Cells that form a protective barrier (like the lining in the sinuses) must be strong , sturdy and resistant to invasion by other organisms. Organelles inside the cell may have to be soft and fluid so they may contain less cholesterol.

The ability to firm up and strengthen the cellular membranes is used in our blood vessels. This helps to resist the pressure, pounding and turbulence within the blood vessels. This is especially important in areas that the blood vessels bend or twist particularly in large to medium arteries. Sometimes “fatty streaks” of cholesterol are found in these areas and are totally normal. It is only with excessive deposits of fat that they become known as atherosclerosclerotic or hardening of the arteries.


Cholesterol helps cells to communicate with one another via proteins found in the cellular membrane. Cholesterol and saturated fats allow these proteins to operate properly. A fatty substance made up of 20% cholesterol that surrounds most nerves is called myelin. Myelin acts a an insulator, protector, a source of nourishment and especially allows proper conduction of nerve impulses. Without proper levels of myelin, nerve degeneration along with memory loss can occur. Other cognitive function can also suffer. About 25% of all cholesterol is found in the brain and spinal cord.


Cholesterol is also essential for the production of adrenal and other steroid hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, aldosterone, and cortisol. It an important component of bile which helps in the absorption of Vitamin A, D, E and K. Cholesterol also has a direct involvement with the synthesis of Vitamin D in the body. It is a vital substance that the immune system uses as well to help fight infections and to heal. Cholesterol also acts as an antioxidant and is important in wound healing.

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Arizona Family Health Centre
2430 W Ray Rd
Chandler, AZ 85224‎
(480) 732-0911