Cholesterol, we’ve all heard the term, unless you are living under a rock! As a person with diabetes, cholesterol is one of the key health metrics you need to keep track of to make sure you don’t suffer some of the complications of diabetes.
But what is cholesterol? Why is it important for our health?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in our blood and in body cells. Cholesterol comes from two sources: your body and food. Your liver and other cells in your body make about 75 percent of blood cholesterol. The other 25 percent comes from the foods you eat. We need cholesterol and use it to make some hormones, vitamin D and it is also a component of our cell membranes. Cholesterol is found only in animal products like meat, eggs, dairy and shellfish.
Humans evolved eating a primarily plant rich diet. Some of those foods block the absorption of cholesterol, so humans had to be very good at conserving it in our bodies. When our diets were richer in fruits and vegetables this ability to store cholesterol was not a problem.
Today, many of the foods we eat are high in cholesterol, and too much of the wrong kind of cholesterol in our diet may contribute to heart disease.
Cholesterol travels through the blood attached to a protein called a lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are classified as high density, low density, or very low density, depending on the ratio of protein to fat.
There are several different types of cholesterol and one of them is actually good for you!