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In the last blog we talked about how high total cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease. Today we will talk about how cholesterol is important to the body and how to get our cholesterol levels in the normal range.
Keeping your cholesterol in the normal range actually helps your body achieve optimal wellness so let’s get a better understanding of importance of cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a component of normal processing for the body. It is necessary for the formation of cell membranes and the creation of nerve cell coverings. It is also the backbone for steroid hormones necessary vital functions.
Our most familiar steroid hormones are female and male sex hormones. The female hormones are estrogens and progesterone and the male hormones are testosterone (androgen).
Cortisol, our next steroid hormone is responsible for managing stressful events, regulating blood sugar levels and reducing inflammation. Our final steroid hormone is aldosterone, which balances water and sugar in the body.
Cholesterol is used by the digestive system to make bile, the greenish substance that breaks down fats in the body. Bile is necessary for absorption in the intestine of dietary cholesterol and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K. The body can also use cholesterol to produce vitamin D this is an essential vitamin for bone and immune health.
If cholesterol is responsible for all of these important functions in the body why is it so demonized for causing heart problems?
It is because when our body produces excess amounts of cholesterol it has damaging effects to the blood vessels and the heart. How do we keep our total cholesterol levels within the normal range under 200 mg/dl?
Surprisingly, diet is an important factor that can make a large difference in keeping cholesterol levels in the normal range.
Plant-based foods contain soluble fiber, especially lentils and beans, oats in many different forms, apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, most types of nuts, flaxseeds, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, and carrots.