Thursday, February 18, 2021

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in the walls of cells in all parts of the body, from the nervous system to the liver to the heart. Cholesterol is a lipid that has multiple functions. It is of great importance for cell membrane structure and function in vertebrates.

Cholesterol is an amphipathic sterol present in higher animals. It’s a waxy lipid and distributed in body tissues. Cholesterol can be toxic in the form of polar lipid. Its molecular formula is C27H46O and molecular weight is 386.65354.

The body uses cholesterol to make hormones, bile acids, vitamin D, and other substances. Metabolites of cholesterol viz. bile salts, steroid hormones and oxysterols, fulfill important biological functions.

Cholesterol travels within the body by forming a complex with some proteins which are termed as lipoproteins. Two main kinds of lipoproteins carry cholesterol in the blood:
*Low density lipoprotein, or LDL (bad cholesterol)
*High density lipoprotein, or HDL (good cholesterol)

If there is too much cholesterol in the blood, some of the excess can become trapped in artery walls. Over time, this builds up and is called plaque. The plaque can narrow vessels and make them less flexible, a condition called atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries.”

High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. A risk factor is a condition that increases the chance of getting a disease. In fact, the higher blood cholesterol level, the greater risk for developing heart disease or having a heart attack.
What is cholesterol?

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