The idea that cholesterol, whether in your food or in your body, is a one-way ticket to disease and death, is starting to die.
Rather than existing solely to clog your arteries, cholesterol is increasingly being shown to protect various aspects of one’s physical and mental health.
Cholesterol is in your body for a reason.
In fact, your own body makes cholesterol – far more of it than you get from your diet, even if you eat loads of butter and egg yolks. It’s unlikely your body would produce so much cholesterol if it existed to only cause trouble. To the contrary, it looks more and more like cholesterol has beneficial effects we’re only beginning to uncover.
Here’s the short list of critical functions cholesterol performs in the body:
- It’s an essential structural component of the myelin sheath in the brain, which insulates and protects neurons and facilitates communication between them.
- It’s an essential structural component for cell membranes.
- It’s required for synthesis of all steroid hormones, including testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, and more.
- It serves as a raw material for the body’s production of vitamin D (which is technically a hormone), via the interaction of sunlight with your skin.
- It’s required for the proper function of serotonin receptors in the brain.
- It’s an essential component of bile salts, which are required for the digestion of fats and fat-soluble vitamins.
- It facilitates repair and regeneration of damaged tissue.
Written by Dr. Joe Upton
Anti-Aging Specialist at PRO Medical