Cholesterol in Cell Membranes

Cholesterol is a lipid protein present in the cell membranes. Cell membranes of bacteria do not possess cholesterol but cell membranes of animals contain cholesterol. Cholesterol present in cell membranes hinder the path of certain substances to enter or exit the cell. It is produced by the liver and is an essential building block needed by the body.

Identification of Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced in the body and is found abundantly in animal food. It is necessary to transport fats to the liver through the bloodstream and is helpful in producing certain hormones. But, excess cholesterol in the body leads to many health disorders like hardened arteries, heart diseases and stroke.

Types of Cholesterol in Cell Membranes

Cholesterol is of two types. Bad cholesterol and good cholesterol.

  • Bad cholesterol, known as

    low density lipoprotein (LDL)

    gets built up in the arteries that connect to the heart and brain and slow down the flow of blood.

  • Good cholesterol, known as

    high density lipoprotein (HDL)

    transports back the fats to liver for eliminating them from the body.

Function of Cholesterol

Cholesterol stiffens the cell membrane and does not allow it to shift apart. But, it keeps the membrane fluid as such by not allowing it to enter into external environment. If the cholesterol is not present in the cell membrane, the cell would need a cell wall to withstand the membrane fluid.

Benefits of Cholesterol

  • Cholesterol helps in separating cells from rest of the environment and separates certain cells into certain compartments for a particular process.
  • Good cholesterol reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • It keeps the environment suitable that is needed by the proteins in the membrane.
  • It does not allow the hydrocarbons to crystallize.

How to Keep Good Cholesterol Levels in Cell Membrane

Good cholesterol levels i.e high density lipoprotein levels can be maintained in the body by following certain measures such as:

  • Taking diet low in saturated fat
  • Quitting smoking
  • Losing weight
  • Performing regular exercises
  • Reducing stress levels in the body

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