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Basic Cholesterol Information For Dummies – What Is Cholesterol?

September 8th, 2007 · No Comments ·


As much as I want to share more information about weight loss, I rather take a step back and start everything from basic. So, today, let’s take a closer look at cholesterol.

So, what exactly is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of fat found in our blood. Our liver produces about 1,000 milligrams of cholesterol a day. Apart from that, cholesterol is found in foods from animal sources. So, eggs, meats, fish, and whole-fat dairy products (whole or low-fat milk, cheese and ice cream) all have cholesterol whereas vegetables, fruits, and grains contain none though.

We need cholesterol to make vitamin D, produce some hormones and build cell walls. However, eating too much of it is not good for health, especially for people whose bodies already make too much cholesterol.


Because cholesterol cannot travel alone through the bloodstream, it has to combine with certain proteins. These proteins act like trucks, picking up the cholesterol and transporting it to different parts of the body. When this happens, the cholesterol and protein form a lipoprotein.

The two most important types of lipoproteins are:

  1. High-density lipoproteins (or HDL) –> “Good” cholesterol
  2. Low-density lipoproteins (or LDL) –> “Bad” cholesterol

Sad to say, most cholesterol is LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is more likely to clog blood vessels because it carries the cholesterol away from the liver into the bloodstream, where it can stick to the blood vessels.

HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, carries the cholesterol back to the liver where it is broken down.

Why Do People Worry About Having LDL Cholesterol?
Cholesterol floats around in our blood and it can get into the walls of the blood vessels and stay there. When LDL cholesterol levels are high, cholesterol is deposited on the walls of arteries and forms a hard substance called plaque.


Over time, plaque causes the arteries to become narrower. Because of that, it decreases blood flow and causing a condition called atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.

When atherosclerosis affects the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply the muscles of the heart), the condition is called coronary artery disease, which puts a person at risk for having a heart attack.


What Causes High LDL Cholesterol Levels?
Some of the factors that lead to high cholesterol are:

  • Heredity – High cholesterol often runs in families. Genes play a role in influencing blood cholesterol levels. So, if your parents have that, chances of you having it is high.
  • Weight – Excess weight tends to increase blood cholesterol levels.
  • Diet – You are what you eat.
  • Age and gender – Before menopause, women tend to have total cholesterol levels lower than men at the same age. Cholesterol levels naturally rise as men and women age.

Wonder how we can lower cholesterol to stay healthy. Check out my the other article to find out more – How To Lower Cholesterol To Stay Healthy?



Category: Nutrition

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