Cholesterol is both produced by the body and taken in with food. A sterol (modified steroid) and a lipid, cholesterol is essential for maintaining healthy cell membranes in animals and synthesizing bile acids and vitamin D. Usually the body, especially the liver, produces all the cholesterol the body needs.Continue Reading
Because lipids don’t dissolve in blood, which is water-based, cholesterol attaches to blood proteins to travel around the body. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL,also called "good cholesterol," travels around the body picking up excess cholesterol and taking it back to the liver. "Bad" cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, also known as LDL, can stick to the interior walls of blood vessels. Very-low-density liprotein, VLDL, contains the most triglycerides and lipids and can actually swell LDL and narrow blood vessels. Regulating the HDL/LDL ratio – lowering levels of LDLs and raising levels of HDLs – is essential to good heart and circulatory health.
People with high cholesterol can manage their HDL/LDL ratio with diet and medication, by quitting smoking, exercising and eating healthier fats such as mono- and polyunsaturated cooking oils and omega-3 fatty acids found in nuts and fish. However, high cholesterol isn’t necessarily caused by eating saturated fats and other high-cholesterol foods. Some people have a hereditary condition called hypercholesterolemia. Their total cholesterol numbers are high, but their HDL/LDL ratios are usually healthy.Learn more about Health