We need cholesterol!
First of all, it’s important to understand that cholesterol itself is not bad. In fact, it’s essential for life! Cholesterol is a fatty substance which is used by the body in many vital processes:
- to build cell membranes
- to make bile acids, which digest food
- to make hormones (like oestrogen and testosterone)
- to allow the body produce Vitamin D
However, the body can make its own cholesterol- so you don’t need to get it from food sources. If you eat too much unhealthy fatty food, the cholesterol levels in your blood may increase and cause problems.
What are the different types of cholesterol?
- There are different forms of cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is sometimes known as “bad cholesterol” as it is linked to a higher risk of vascular disease, such as heart attack and stroke. This is because high LDL cholesterol (along with other risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure) can lead to blockages in blood vessels.
- HDL cholesterol is also known as “good cholesterol” as it helps to transport cholesterol out of the bloodstream- higher levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
- If you have a blood test to check your cholesterol (also known as lipids), the results will usually include measurement of total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides.