Cholesterol is not new to some of us as we talk about it especially when munching some fatty or oily foods.
I’ve tried so much not to be too scientific in my use of words however, you are at liberty to ask questions should you find some words or terms strange and incomprehensible.
The word is derived from the Ancient Greek chole- (bile) and stereos (solid) followed by the chemical suffix -ol for an alcohol, is an organic molecule. It is a sterol (or modified steroid), a lipid molecule and is biosynthesized by all animal cells because it is an essential structural component of animal cell membranes that is required to maintain both membrane structural integrity and fluidity.
It is enables animal cells to (a) not need a cell wall (like plants & bacteria) to protect membrane integrity/cell-viability and thus be able to (b) change shape and (c) move about (unlike bacteria and plant cells which are restricted by their cell walls).
In addition to its importance within cells, it also serves as a precursor for the biosynthesis of steroid hormones, bile acids, and vitamin D. It is the principal sterol synthesized by animals. All kinds of cells in animals can produce it. In vertebrates, the hepatic cells typically produce greater amounts than other cells. It is almost completely absent among prokaryotes, although there are some exceptions such as Mycoplasma, which require cholesterol for growth.
Major dietary sources include cheese, egg yolks, beef, pork, poultry, fish, and shrimp. Human breast milk also contains significant quantities of cholesterol. All animal cells manufacture cholesterol for their use, with relative production rates varying by cell type and organ function. About 20–25% of total daily production occurs in the liver; other sites of higher synthesis rates include the intestines, adrenal glands, and reproductive organs.
There are two main types based on the lipoprotein they carry as their constituent;
- High Density Lipoprotein(HDL)
- Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
- High Density Lipoprotein(HDL); is generally referred to as ‘good cholesterol’.
- Low Density Lipoprotein; is generally referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’.
….to be continued