Cholesterol is an organic substance obtained from consumption of animal products. It is termed as a waxy steroid of fats. It is mainly contained in animal products, although plants do produce little quantities of the substance. It has been claimed as an unhealthy component in humans. This is usually stated in the advertisements for cooking oils that depict the absence of the substance as a strong point that would draw customers to purchase products. This has portrayed cholesterol as a harmful substance (Tymoczko, 2002). However, it is incorrect to indicate that consuming foods with cholesterol, one would be courting diseases. It has both beneficial and harmful effects for the human bodies.
It is widely known that cholesterol constitutes an important structural component of the cell membrane (Sadava, 2011). Due to its nature, it aids in the composition of an appropriate structure that forms the permeability and fluidity of the membrane. This allows the cell membrane to effectively perform its duties (Christie, 2003). This is a vital role in the body since the maintenance of the correct fluid balance gives the body the right conditions for proper functioning of the various cells of the body.
Moreover, cholesterol serves as a precursor for the biosynthesis of various hormones, acids and vitamins in the body. It is converted into bile in the liver and then stored in the gallbladder. Bile consists of salts which make fats in the digestive system to become soluble. This leaves the fats in a form that can now be absorbed into the cells for the use of the body. It also plays a role in the synthesis of vitamin D and the steroid hormones. This too, is a crucial duty towards the proper functioning of the body, thereby sustaining human life.
Everything abovementioned discusses the important roles that cholesterol plays in the body. However, amid the negative characteristics of it is the fact that excessive consumption of its content leads to blockage of arteries (Pawlina, 2006). This causes the condition known as arteriosclerosis, which may lead to death if not treated carefully. This is because the blockage prevents the free flow of blood in the body, thereby depriving the body of the necessary requirements like oxygen and food. This is the main harmful effect of cholesterol on the body.
From the foregoing, it is clear that the appropriate levels or quantities of cholesterol are of the great use for the body (Sadava, 2011). This must, however, be within the correct amounts that the body would be able to manipulate and process for its use. Excessive consumption promises disastrous results as it causes heart diseases that may even cause the death to the victim. It is important therefore, that only correct proportions of cholesterol are consumed for a better health in humans and thereby improved the general welfare in the society.
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