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Cholesterol has gained a bad reputation for causing heart-related issues. It has never been considered good for health. But it may come as a surprise to you that the role of this white waxy substance is much more complex and it is actually necessary for our existence.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is made in our liver and is present in every cell of our body. But even the food we eat has some amount of cholesterol in it. Cholesterol is basically of two types- low-density lipoproteins (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol and high-density lipoproteins (HDL), or “good” cholesterol.

Both types of cholesterol are present in our body, but it is crucial to maintain a good balance of the two in the blood. Any imbalance can put a person at risk of developing cardiovascular problems.

The three main functions of cholesterol are:

1. To help in the production of sex hormones.

2. It assists in bile production in the liver.

3. It is the building block of the cell.

Why is LDL bad?

LDL is known as the bad cholesterol because an excessive amount of LDL in the blood can make the wall of the arteries thick. As per the American Heart Association, LDL leads to the accumulation of plaque on the walls of the arteries, which can cause two major complications:

First, it can narrow the blood vessels and limit the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.

Secondly, it can cause blood clots, which can block the flow of blood, leading to a heart attack or stroke. Ideally, our body should not contain 100 milligrams of LDL per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood.

Why is HDL good?

HDL helps to keep your cardiovascular system healthy. It removes LDL from the arteries and carries it back to the liver, where it is broken down and further removed from the body.

Apart from this, HDL protects us from stroke and heart attack and low HDL can increase the risk of heart stroke.

As per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), HDL levels of 60 mg/dL and higher are considered good for your health. While 40 mg/dL can put you at the risk of heart stroke.

The bottom line

Several things can influence the amount of cholesterol in your body. Some can be controlled, while others like hereditary factors are beyond our control. Eating the right diet, maintaining healthy body weight and exercising regularly are a few things that can help to lower the level of bad cholesterol in the body.

By – TIMESOFINDIA.COM