Cholesterol is, chemically, a molecule with a steroidal structure. It is a vital compound for the human organism, which we can absorb through food and also produce and reuse ourselves. Through various enzymatic processes, our body converts cholesterol into several related substances that are essential to its function and structure. In addition, cholesterol itself has different effects on cells and organs.

End products of cholesterol and their functions

end product function comment
testosteroneMale sex hormoneHas anabolic effects,
responsible for
sexual characteristics
estrogensFemale sex hormonesAnabolic,
responsible for
sexual characteristics
and the female cycle
progesteroneFemale sex hormonesWorks katabol, is on
involved in the female cycle and is important during pregnancy
cortisoneStress hormone, catabolicHormone
Adrenal cortex
aldosteroneRegulates the water balance and blood pressureHormone
Adrenal cortex
bile acidemulsificationHelps with the digestion of fats
cell membranesstructure formationIs important for the
"Liquid attitude" of
Vitamin Dcalcium balanceVitamin D can also act as a hormone and be produced by the body itself.
Nerve cells in the brainForms the structure ("insulating layer" around nerve cells)The brain is the highest cholesterol organ
Lipoproteins (VLDL, LDL, HDL)Transport form of cholesterol in the bloodLDL = the "bad": distribute that
HDL = the "good guys":
take up cholesterol and transport it off
Cholesterol-filled phagocytes, cholesterol deposits"Breaking" of the innermost layer of the vessel, deposition of cholesterol, "blockage" of the vesselsBlood cholesterol is just one of the factors responsible for "vascular calcification"
(Arteriosclerosis) leads

Occurrence in food

Cholesterol is found especially in foods of animal origin or in those that have been produced with animal products (butter, lard, eggs, etc.). Offal and eggs are the highest in cholesterol, and it has not yet been scientifically clarified whether and how eggs actually affect cholesterol levels:

food Cholesterol content (in mg per 100 g)
calves' brains2000
egg yolk1400
bovine kidney375
pork liver340
one egg (about 60 g)289
Sardines, drained140

Influencing the cholesterol level

The blood cholesterol level is influenced not only by the cholesterol content of the ingested foods, but also by many other factors. The most important factor for the blood cholesterol value is the genetic constitution. The genes and thus the genetic conditions of our ancestors are most responsible for whether we have high cholesterol or not.

The diet itself, it is believed, can affect the blood cholesterol by a maximum of 10 to 15 percent. The reason for this is that the body's own new formation is increased, as soon as less is supplied by the food. Nevertheless, the leverage must be used in one's own behavior, because not only the cholesterol alone, but numerous circumstances (high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, smoking) decide whether an excessive cholesterol level increases the risk of damage to the health (arteriosclerosis, heart and cerebral infarct, etc.). ).

The following factors influence the cholesterol level

Increases the cholesterol level Lowers the cholesterol level
Fat (especially saturated fat) *Certain vegetable fatty acids
Cholesterol-containing foodsOmega 3 fatty acids (fish oil)
Alcohol in large quantitiesFiber (especially legumes and oats)
Certain medications (anabolic steroids, medicines for acne, etc.)Alcohol in small quantities (a glass of wine)
sedentary lifestyleMedicinal cholesterol lowering drugs
Malnutrition in childhood (is suspected)Weight reduction in overweight
stressthyroid hormone

* Taking eggs and mayonnaise at the same time may increase blood cholesterol levels. In addition to the cholesterol of the eggs, "own" cholesterol from the bile acid gets into the blood. The bile acid is excreted especially when eating fatty foods. To what extent eggs actually affect cholesterol levels is not fully understood.

Height of cholesterol in the blood

It is by no means easy to determine a guideline for a normal or elevated blood cholesterol content. Finally, there are considerable fluctuations within and between individuals and also between different peoples. Thus, it is also difficult to determine when action is needed. The "risk limit" for serum cholesterol was set to> 5.2 mmol (> 200 mg / dl) (other source: normal values: 3.6-6.4 mmol / l).

However, it is clear that there is a clear correlation between the level of cholesterol and the formation of vessel deposits. In addition to the absolute cholesterol value, many other factors determine the potential for damage. Diet, physical activity, smoking status, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, blood lipid levels and family stress are also crucial.

In addition, of course, the lipoproteins and their relationship to each other must be considered. An LDL above 3.9 mmol / L (150 mg / dL) must also be considered a risk factor, as is an HDL below 1.0 mmol / L (40 mg / dL).

So it can be explained that certain people with a cholesterol value of 7 mmol / l or more throughout life have no cardiovascular problems, while others suffer with the same value at the age of 50, a heart attack.

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