Cholesterol is a compound closely related to testosterone. Both are responsible for a number of our body’s natural functions. We get cholesterol from the fats that we consume in our diet, which is why it is so important to focus strongly on good fats, which give us healthy cholesterol. Bad cholesterol can lead to clogging up of the arteries and, ultimately, heart disease and strokes. However, cholesterol is not only linked to metabolism, but also to testosterone, the male sex hormone.
What Is Cholesterol For?
It is perhaps important to first understand just what the role of cholesterol is.
“Cholesterol serves as a structural component of your cellular membranes, helping to maintain membrane fluidity and keeping cells protected from damage.”
It works as a precursor for a variety of things, including our body’s absorption of vitamin D. Hormonally, it acts on estrogen (the female sex hormone), testosterone (the male sex hormone) and cortisol (the stress hormone). This is where athletes start to get particularly interested, as cortisol counteracts the effects of testosterone and must therefore be avoided.
The main link between cholesterol and testosterone is found in the Leydig cells.
“Leydig cells get most of what they need to produce T by simply absorbing the cholesterol floating around in our blood from the bacon and eggs we ate in the morning. If there’s not enough cholesterol in our blood, our testicles can produce a bit of it so that the Leydig cells can convert it to testosterone.”
However, it cannot be stressed enough that you have to consume the right kind of cholesterol in order for this to happen properly. The right kind is best harnessed from eggs, so make sure you eat plenty of those. You will be happy to know, as well, that scientists have proven that there actually isn’t such a thing as too many eggs, so make sure every breakfast includes at least one.
The Danger of LDL
LDL is the bad cholesterol. Since our body can only naturally produce testosterone by converting cholesterol (although other natural processes do help in speeding this up), many athletes have a real cholesterol drive. The danger of this is that they end up consuming too much LDL, which is the bad kind of cholesterol, and the one that is responsible for increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Interestingly, before we started to learn about cholesterol, scientists believed it was actually testosterone that was the hormone that caused these risks.
“In contrast to the historical concern that testosterone might increase cardiovascular risk in men, mounting data now demonstrate elevated risk to be associated with low androgen states. This elevated risk is strikingly prominent among men who have undergone androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT) for treatment of prostate cancer.”
Clearly, our biological functions are highly complex. We need to find ways to help our natural and healthy processes, but in doing so, we often cause risks to our overall health. Make sure you know what you are doing in order to get it right.