Lipids are substances that are found in both plant and animal cells. They contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Lipids are important in maintaining the structure of cells and provides source of fuel to the body. They can also be in a compound form when they combine with a different chemical compound. Lipids are also known as phospholipids or glycolipids.
Categories of lipids
- Triglycerides – they are commonly called as fats and oils. They provide thermal insulation, energy storage for cells and form the protective layers for tissues and organs. The body uses triglycerides for energy and are required for good health. On the other hand, high level of triglycerides increases the risk of heart disease and it is a sign of a metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar level, excess fat around the waist, low HDL (good cholesterol) and high triglycerides. This condition will put the individual at high risk for a heart disease, diabetes and stroke. High triglyceride can be caused by the following:
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Kidney disease
- Eating high calorie food regularly than the foods burned by the body
- Consumption of high amounts of alcohol
- Glycerides or phospholipids – phospholipids resemble fats in their chemical structure. Phospholipids have the element of phosphorus and soluble in water than in fats and important structural components in the tissues of both plants and animals. Cell is the basic unit of plant and animal and surrounded by a membrane while phospholipid is the principal material in these membranes. Phospholipids helps in the maintaining of internal structures and environment of the cell with the process called haemostasis. The phospholipid bilayers allow the free diffusion of small molecules of oxygen, hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide, but it prevents the diffusion of larger molecules of glucose, water and charged ions.
- Steroids – they do not contain fatty acids. Cholesterol is a steroid that has important functions in the body in the structure of cell membranes. There are several function of cholesterol which includes the following:
- Hormone production – cholesterol produces hormone like oestrogen, testosterone, progesterone, aldosterone and cortisone.
- Cholesterol produces vitamin D when the sun’s ultraviolet rays reach the human skin.
- Cholesterol produces bile acids which aid in digestion and for vitamin absorption.
- Cholesterol is utilized for the maintenance of cell membranes.
Excessive consumption of cholesterol can lead to heart disease and stroke. Cholesterol is only found in animal food products. Some foods rich in cholesterol include the following:
- Egg yolk from chicken egg
- Caviar from raw fish
- Liver, pate, foe grass
- Butter – common in cakes, cookies, bread and vegetables
- Shrimp (prawns, coumarone)
- Breakfast items like ham, egg and cheese
- Oil packed fish – it can be good for your heart, but the oil of fish contains cholesterol
- Cheese – a vegetarian source of protein and calcium
- Processed meats – sausage, lamb and duck
- Shellfish – oysters, clams and mussels
By being familiar with the components present in the diet such as lipids, it can help lead a healthy life. Just remember that an increase in the triglyceride level can put an individual at risk especially for a stroke. With this in mind, once you suspect that an individual is having a stroke; emergency care must be sought as soon as possible.