What is Cholesterol?

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is needed by the body to perform a number of functions such as to insulate nerve fibres, make up the structure of the membrane (outer layer) of every cell in the body, make hormones, make bile acids needed for digestion and absorption of fats.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid. It is mostly made by the liver from fatty foods and is vital for the body to function normally.

Having an excessively high level of lipids in the blood (hyperlipidemia) can have a serious effect on the health as it increases your risk of heart attack or stroke.

GOOD and BAD Cholesterol

Cholesterol cannot travel around the body on its own because it does not dissolve in water. It is carried by your blood by molecules called lipoproteins. The two main lipoproteins are LDL and HDL.

LDL

low density lipoprotein. LDL is the main cholesterol transporter that carries cholesterol from your liver to the cells. If there is too much cholesterol for the cells to use this can cause a harmful build up. Too much LDL cholesterol in the blood can cause cholesterol to build up in the artery walls, leading to disease of the arteries. For this reason, LDL cholesterol is known as “BAD” cholesterol.

HDL

high density lipoprotein. HDL carries cholesterol away from the cells back to the liver, where it is either broken down or passed from the body as a waste product. For this reason, it is referred to as “GOOD” cholesterol.

Evidence strongly indicates that high (LDL) cholesterol levels can cause narrowing of the arteries, heart attack or stroke. It also increases the chance of blood clots developing.