People always associate having high cholesterol with being unhealthy. Most believe having high cholesterol levels inevitably leads to fatal heart conditions, and are thus inclined to find remedies to keep their cholesterol levels in check. In fact, statin drugs, which lower LDL cholesterol, are now prescribed to over 13 million Americans, most of whom are over the age of 60.
However, research published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism just revealed that having high cholesterol is actually more beneficial to people as they age. The research, which was conducted in Japan, showed that people with the highest cholesterol levels had the lowest mortality rate from heart disease. According to the report, “mortality actually goes down with higher total or low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, as reported by most Japanese epidemiological studies of the general population.”
Is cholesterol bad for you?
Cholesterol is a soft and waxy, fat-soluble nutrient essential to the human body. Though recognized as leading to atherosclerosis (the hardening of arteries), cholesterol is also responsible for many important biological functions in the body. The human brain, for instance, cannot function well without cholesterol. It also helps reduce stress, and may even be a treatment for multiple sclerosis, since the body needs cholesterol to build the myelin sheath that protects the nerves.
People who have low or no cholesterol also suffer from autism, vision problems and low immunity. Those born without the ability to make cholesterol, can also have physical deformities in their hands, feet or internal organs.
Those with diabetes tend to have too much bad cholesterol, and not enough of the good type, thereby leading to an increased risk of heart disease. The condition is known as diabetic dyslipidemia. In addition to heart disease, diabetics are also prone to atherosclerosis, a condition in which the arteries become clogged with fat, blocking blood vessels and damaging blood flow. Insulin resistance is linked to diabetic dyslipidemia, so diabetics need to be aware of their cholesterol levels and take special care with their diets.
Why is cholesterol important?
Cholesterol is needed by every cell in the body because it forms part of the cell membrane. Furthermore, without cholesterol, your body would be unable to make bile acid, thereby leading to poor digestion. The sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, are also made with the help of cholesterol. Even the production of vitamin D utilizes cholesterol for its creation. New research has also suggested that cholesterol bonds with sulfur in the body to produce cholesterol sulfate, which could thin blood and possibly reduce heart disease.