7 Surprising Facts About Cholesterol

Are you suffering from high cholesterol? Do you stay away from fried and fatty foods to maintain a healthy cholesterol level? Look at some surprising facts about cholesterol that you may not know.

By Priya Kathpal

7 Surprising Facts About Cholesterol

Mahindra Singh, a senior content editor, is in his mid-thirties. He loves certain foods like butter chicken, dal makhani, samosas, chole phulka, and consumes these food items on a regular basis. Recently, he fell ill and suffered from chest pain. Thinking it to be a common and simple case of acute gastroenteritis, Mahindra took some gel for gas. However, when the pain refused to subside, he went to the doctor. After a few tests, it was discovered that due to lack of exercise and a diet rich in oily and fatty foods, Mahindra’s cholesterol levels were high.

Mahindra is not the only one to suffer from ‘high’ cholesterol. In today’s age, many factors such as irregular eating habits, oily and junk food consumption, and lack of any physical activity has resulted in many people suffering from high cholesterol. This article looks at the different facets of cholesterol.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of fat molecule and is biosynthesized by all animal cells. It is a crucial structural component and is essential to maintain both membrane structural integrity and fluidity. Cholesterol allows animal cells to function without a cell wall this allows animal cells to change shape rapidly.

Since cholesterol is essential for the body, each cell is capable of synthesizing it. Furthermore, it can be absorbed directly from animal-based foods. Therefore, consumption of cholesterol from various foods should be done is a measured and balanced manner.

Even children can have high cholesterol

Contrary to popular belief that only adults are affected by high cholesterol, it may come as a surprise that even children also may have high levels of cholesterol. This can cause serious health problems, especially when the child gets older.

Cholesterol levels in children are mostly linked to three risk factors:

  • Heredity (passed on from parent to child)
  • Diet
  • Obesity

In most cases, kids with high cholesterol have a parent who also has elevated cholesterol.

According to a study published in a health website, high cholesterol is present in 25–30 per cent of urban and 15–20 per cent of rural subjects. A reading of 240 or above for total cholesterol is considered to be high cholesterol and levels below 140 mg/dL are considered unusually low, although many perfectly healthy people have levels in this range.

High cholesterol usually will not show up as any symptom. Regular blood check-up is the only way to detect it. In most cases, it only causes emergency events like a heart attack or stroke. These emergencies typically don’t occur until high cholesterol leads to the formation of plaque in your arteries.

People look at fats as something that is unhealthy. However, children need fats in limited quantities to stay healthy. In fact, limiting fats may deprive your child of essential nutrients. This article looks at ways to include healthy fats in your child's diet.

Surprising FACTS about cholesterol:

1. High cholesterol could be genetic

Everyone focuses on controlling cholesterol levels through dietary changes and exercise, but one of the main influencing factors is genetics. About 75 per cent of cholesterol is due to genes, and about 25 percent is due to diet. Your body is capable of getting rid of the excess cholesterol if it’s functioning normally. But how much cholesterol you get rid of depends on your genes.

2. You can tell by looking at someone if they have high cholesterol

Even though there are no clear signs and symptoms of high cholesterol, certain markers on a face can give away the disease. One researcher says the subject of Leonardo Da Vinci’s the ‘Mona Lisa’ may have been the first known case. Da Vinci’s muse, who was painted in her twenties and passed away in her thirties, appears to have had visible traits of the condition: a xanthelasma (a yellowish fatty deposit) in her left eye and possibly on her left hand, too.

3. The cholesterol levels of women fluctuate over their lifespan

Women experience a roller coaster ride in levels of cholesterol throughout their lives. During pregnancy, the cholesterol levels rise, which is thought to help babies' brains develop. And cholesterol-rich breast milk is thought to be heart-protective for babies as they age. Post-pregnancy, cholesterol levels return to normal only to rise again once the menopause hits. This is also the time when women have higher cholesterol compared to men of same age.

4. There is no minimum dietary recommendation for cholesterol

The human body makes enough to meet the demands. Vegans eat no cholesterol and do just fine in most cases.

5. Very low cholesterol isn’t healthy for the body

Contrary to popular belief, very low levels of cholesterol may not be good for the health. In fact, levels below 160mg/dl may put one at risk of certain cancers, depression, early delivery during pregnancy and low birth weight too.

6. Cholesterol-free food can raise your cholesterol too

As discussed earlier cholesterol is made by the liver of animals, and it will only be found in animal-based foods, such as meat, milk, and eggs. Certain products may not contain any cholesterol can - however, that doesn’t mean they are good for your cholesterol levels.

Many fried foods and commercial baked goods contain cholesterol-raising trans fats, most commonly in the form of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. This along with saturated fats are the main reasons for high cholesterol from food, but they won’t be listed as cholesterol on labels.

7. Some seafood contains high levels of cholesterol

While seafood, such as fish, can be healthy, other types of seafood especially the shell kinds can have high levels of cholesterol. Just 3 oz. of lobster contains 61 mg. of cholesterol and this is before it is cooked in any kind of fat.

So, here you are with a complete low down on what and how of cholesterol. I am sure you feel totally armed to now take care of the cholesterol levels of the entire family including the children 

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