Cholesterol has a bad reputation due to its well-known connection with heart disease, but did you know that only about 20% of the cholesterol in your bloodstream comes from the food you eat? Your body, specifically your liver and intestines, makes the rest!
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body and plays a vital role in:
- Building the structure of your cells.
- Making hormones.
- Helping your metabolism work efficiently, such as helping your body produce vitamin D.
- Producing bile acids to help your body digest fat and absorb important nutrients.
Too much cholesterol in your blood, however, raises your risk of coronary artery disease. High levels of cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to develop in your blood vessels which make it difficult for blood to flow through your arteries. In some cases, the deposits can break suddenly and form a clot that causes a heart attack or stroke.
Doctors are often focused on HDL (High-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and LDL (Low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.
👉 HDL cholesterol is often called ‘good’ cholesterol because it helps remove excess cholesterol out of your cells, including cells in the arteries, and carries it back to your liver. Your liver then removes the cholesterol from your body.
👉 LDL cholesterol is often called ‘bad’ cholesterol because it leads to a build-up of artery-clogging plaque.
U.S. National Library of Medicine (2017). HDL: The “Good” Cholesterol
Health Direct (2019). Cholesterol
Better Health Channel (2014). Cholesterol
Harvard Health (2019). Cholesterol