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Understanding Cholesterol

By David Saunders

Whenever the word cholesterol comes up in any conversation, almost always, people are talking about how high levels of cholesterol can be bad for your body and can even be fatal. What one never hears about is the fact that cholesterol is essential for our bodies. Here's a look at the cholesterol molecule, and how it benefits our bodies.

The cholesterol molecule is a wax like fatty substance, which comes from a family of molecules known as steroids. The cholesterol molecule is present in our blood, as well as all the cells in body tissue. A cholesterol molecule does not enter our bodies through food, but is made by different parts of our body. Body tissues that have highly packed membranes, such as the liver, arethoma, etc are known to produce more cholesterol molecules and have more cholesterol present in their cells.

A form of the cholesterol molecule, if present in large numbers in our bodies, can form deposits known as plaque on the walls of our arteries, which can in turn block the flow of blood supply and cause heart problems. But, the cholesterol molecule also plays an important part in the following:

o In the formation of sex hormones (so definitely can't be all bad).

o Cholesterol molecules help the cells to withstand temperature fluctuations and also protect the nerve fibers.

o Cholesterol molecules help in digestion of food through production of bile salts.

o HDL Cholesterol molecules act as a broom and sweep LDL Cholesterol molecules from the arteries.

o The conversion of Vitamin D from sunlight is helped by the cholesterol molecule.

Thus, the cholesterol molecule is essential for bodily functions, but as forms of it can be harmful in increased quantities, people should control the amounts of cholesterol molecules present in their bodies. This can be best done through improved diet, and lifestyle and, when called for, through the short term use of certain medications.

Dave Saunders is a certified nutritional educator, wellness coach, member of the American International Association of Nutritional Education (AIANE) and author. He is also the host of a weekly, nation-wide telephone lecture on health and nutrition. For additional information, please visit or or email Dave at

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