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Profe Claudio Nieto: Cholesterol and its myths

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  • Profe Claudio Nieto shares what cholesterol is.
  • Although many people always see cholesterol as something bad, the reality is more complicated.
  • Here we provide some advantages of this molecule.

Today we will talk about cholesterol. It is an essential lipid molecule that plays a fundamental role in the human body. It is an important component of cell membranes, where it helps maintain the integrity and fluidity of the membranes.

We start by understanding the physiology of this and the different opinions that exist on how to manage it to optimize our health.

In one corner, we find the «pro-statins», who praise statins as a solution deserving of a Nobel Prize in Medicine.

For them, cholesterol is always a villain, and their goal is to reduce it to minimal levels. However, it is important to note that many of them have financial interests in the sale of statins.

The other side

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On the other extreme, there are the «anti-statins», who believe that cholesterol is beneficial and has no relation to atherosclerosis or coronary diseases.

They consider statins to be a hoax in modern medicine and pharmacy. The truth, as often happens, is probably somewhere in the middle.

So, what is the positive side of it? Is there anything good?

Cholesterol is essential for the formation of cell membranes, which means that without it, life would be impossible.

The benefits

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Additionally, in the brain, it contributes to the construction of the myelin sheaths, essential for communication between neurons and, therefore, for cognition and brain function.

It turns out that breast milk, which is considered beneficial, contains cholesterol and saturated fats. This underscores the importance of these substances from the moment of birth.

This molecule plays a vital role in the synthesis of steroid hormones such as testosterone, estradiol, and cortisol, which are fundamental for hormonal balance and overall health.

It is also involved in the formation of bile salts that facilitate the digestion of fats and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.

The complexity of cholesterol

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Contrary to what is commonly believed, the relationship between dietary cholesterol intake and blood cholesterol levels is more complicated than it seems.

In humans, the body regulates cholesterol production in the liver and intestine independently, making the relationship between diet and blood cholesterol levels not direct.

The myth that dietary cholesterol directly increases blood cholesterol is based on studies conducted on rabbits, which have a metabolism different from humans.

In summary, cholesterol is an essential molecule with a vital role in many biological functions. It should not be seen simply as a harmful substance. Profe Claudio Nieto says goodbye for now and thanks you for your attention. See you next time!

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