What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a sticky, waxy, fat-like substance that is produce in the body by the liver. Cholesterol forms part of every cell in the body and serves many vital functions. Our bodies need cholesterol to:

  • Maintain healthy cell walls
  • Make hormones (the body's chemical messengers)
  • Make vitamin D
  • Make bile acids, which aid in fat digestion

Sometimes, however, our bodies make more cholesterol than we really need. In addition, cholesterol also is found in some of the foods we eat such as meat, egg yolks, deep-fried and processed foods, dairy products, etc. High levels of cholesterol in the blood can clog blood vessels and damage important body parts, like the heart (heart attack) and brain  (stroke).

What Are the Different Kinds of Cholesterol?

  • High-density lipoprotein (or HDL) cholesterol is referred to as good cholesterol. It pushes the fatty substance through your body to the liver, which then removes it from your body. If you have a high HDL cholesterol level, your risk of having heart disease is reduced.
  • Low-density lipoprotein (or LDL) cholesterol is known as bad cholesterol, because it can lead to an increase of cholesterol in your arteries. If you have high LDL levels of cholesterol in your blood, your risk of having heart disease is increased.
  • Triglycerides are another type of fat in your blood. If you have high triglycerides and high LDL, your chances of having a heart attack are even higher.


Guy Slowik MD FRCS (January 7, 2011). Citing Websites. What is Cholesterol. In eHealth MD. Retrieved April 14, 2012, from http://ehealthmd.com/content/what-cholesterol

(n.d). Citing Websites. What is Cholesterol. In National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Retrieved April 14, 2012, from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc/

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