Good vs. Bad Cholesterol, the Chemistry of Health

We have all heard about cholesterol, both good and bad. Most people arenít sure just what makes them that way, though. It can all be attributed to chemistry in the end. If you understand the chemical makeup of this often belittled food, you will understand how to ensure you stay healthy.

Cholesterol is a compound made up of three different types of molecular groups. The hydroxyl group is water-soluble, it breaks up in water. The second part is the hydrocarbon chain which is essentially fat and not water-soluble. There is also a steroid ring. We actually need the steroid ring and hydroxyl group to create certain hormones in the body, like testosterone.

The actual cholesterol itself comes in only one form, it is the method of transport that it takes around the body which determines if the end effect is good or bad. You see, there is a type of chemical called a lipoprotein that carries cholesterol through the bloodstream. It comes in two types, low-density and high-density. These lipoproteins are similar in that they contain both water soluble and non-water soluble parts. They form balls around the cholesterol and take it through the body.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is designed to eliminate this compound from the body. This collects it from the blood and the cholesterol is either eliminated or reused via the liver. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), however, is designed to carry cholesterol to the areas of the body that need it. Too much LDL cholesterol stays in the bloodstream and this causes thickening of the arteries where the non-soluble lipids collect.

Since we usually eat lipoproteins and cholesterol together, it has been given labels such as good or bad. By eating high-density lipoproteins, you can keep your cholesterol levels lower and stay healthier. Foods to eat include oatmeal, oily fish like sardines, walnuts, and olive oil.

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