What is cholesterol and how does it work in the body?

Cholesterol may have a bad reputation, but this waxy-like substance produced by your liver is an extremely crucial and critical compound needed for your normal body functioning.

Prof Sim: The word "cholesterol" comes from the Greek word chole, meaning "bile", and stereos, meaning "solid, stiff".

Now, this calls for my infamous liver-lubricant theory!

Let me begin with some preliminaries.

Well, cholesterol may have a bad rep, but this waxy-like substance produced by your liver may not necessarily be a deadly poison; instead, it is an extremely crucial and critical compound needed for your normal body functioning, i.e. to enable the production of hormones, Vitamin D and bile acids that aids in the digestion of food in your intestines.

Imagine cholesterol as being so important that the body has the ability to produce it, in case we do not get enough of it with food.

Depending on how much of it we get with food, our body regulates its own production to keep everything functioning properly.

It is also your best friend in case you have a stressful lifestyle.

Cholesterol is the five-star general leading the army when it comes to combating stress.

It is also important for combating cellular damage, which increases as we age.

Now, cholesterol acts like a lubricant in your body.

As you know, oil and water can never mix. However, your body is made up of 70 per cent water, so then, what happens to the fats or oil that you consume?

In this case, cholesterol is there to ensure that the fats or oil you eat becomes soluble or "dissolves" in the water environment of your blood.

Fats like trans fat or saturated fat are termed "stubborn fats", as those are extremely hard on your system to dissolve.

In turn, your liver has to work overtime to produce more of this lubricant (cholesterol) to dissolve these types of fats, and this increases the amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream.

Dr Robaayah: Think of your gifts - gifts are gifts, but it is the packaging that indicates their difference.

Similarly, cholesterol is cholesterol, but it is carried in the blood in three different "packagings" called lipoproteins, which is any compound containing both lipid (fat) and protein.

You have the LDL or low-density lipoprotein, HDL or high-density lipoprotein, and triglycerides.

The body actually uses the lipoprotein cholesterol as a kind of bandage to cover abrasions and tears in damaged arterial walls, just as it does for any other wound.

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