What Is Cholesterol?

By vanessa
Reviewed: dr. vanta
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. 'LDL & HDL: Good & Bad Cholesterol.' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/ldl/hdl.htm.
  • 2. 'Causes of High Cholesterol.' Heart.org, www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/causes-of-high-cholesterol.
  • 3. 'High Cholesterol Diseases: Conditions & Outcome.' Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11918-cholesterol-high-cholesterol-diseases.
  • 4. 'Knowing Your Risk: High Cholesterol.' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/risk/factors.htm.
  • 5. 'Triglycerides and High Cholesterol: Causes, Risks & Prevention.' Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11117-triglycerides.
Medical Expert Medical Expert

Cholesterol is a soft, fatty substance that is found in all of the body’s cells. It’s produced in the liver and is then transported by the blood to parts of the body where it’s needed. The body manufactures all of the cholesterol it needs to produce hormones, bile and vitamin D and requires no extra consumption to meet its needs.

Some foods from animal sources contain cholesterol, referred to as dietary cholesterol. When in excess, cholesterol can combine with other substances in the blood to form plaque that easily coats artery walls, leading to the obstruction of arteries and to coronary artery disease.

1. Why Cholesterol is Essential

Cholesterol is present in all of the body’s cells and is of vital importance to bodily functioning. It’s particularly necessary in the brain, nerves and skin, where it forms part of the structure of all cell membranes.

Cholesterol, which is transported in the blood by carriers known as lipoproteins, creates hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and adrenal hormones that assist in metabolic functioning, as well as playing a vital function in vitamin D production. It also produces bile acids that help in the digestion of fat and the absorption of essential nutrients.


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