Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is made 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
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, and this excess cholesterol circulates in the bloodstream. High levels of cholesterol in the blood can clog blood vessels and increase the risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Our bodies can make too much cholesterol when we eat too much saturated fat - the kind of fat found in animal-based foods such as meat and dairy products.
- In addition to making cholesterol, we also get a small percentage of our body's cholesterol from the foods we eat. Only animal-based foods such as meat, eggs, and dairy products contain
cholesterol. Plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains do not contain cholesterol.
The Different Types Of Cholesterol
There are different types of cholesterol - and not all cholesterol is harmful.
- Low-density lipoprotein (or LDL) cholesterol is a bad type of cholesterol that is most likely to clog blood vessels, increasing your risk for heart disease.
- High-density lipoprotein (or HDL) cholesterol is a good type of cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps clear the LDL cholesterol out of the blood and reduces your risk for heart disease.
Facts About Cholesterol