Cholesterol plays a role similar to saturated fat in our cell membranes. It helps to provide stiffness and stability. (Polyunsaturated fat provides fluidity to those same membranes. We need a balance of both.) Cholesterol is the precursor molecule for all of the important hormones in the body. This includes the corticosteroids, testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. Cholesterol is the precursor for vitamin D. Exposure of our skin to sunshine converts cholesterol to vitamin D. This is the molecule that is so very important for bone formation and strength, for nervous system function, mineral metabolism, muscle tone, reproduction, insulin production, and immune function.
Cholesterol acts as an antioxidant. As such it protects against free radical damage associated with toxins and advancing age. The free radical reactions are what lead to cancer and heart disease. As we advance in age our body naturally makes more cholesterol to protect us from the toxins and other insults that we are subjected to. Studies show that, among hospitalized patients, those who have Q cholesterol have more infections.
Cholesterol plays a role in the function of serotonin, the “feel good hormone”. Low cholesterol levels (often the result of cholesterol lowering drugs) have been associated with depression, suicide, violent behavior, and aggression. Bile salts very important players in digestion and assimilation of fats are made from cholesterol.
Cholesterol is present in abundance in breast milk. It plays an important role in the development of the brain and nervous system throughout the growing years.
If we reduce the amount of cholesterol in our diet, our liver will compensate by making more, it is as much as 3 to 4 times more than cholesterol we consume.