What is Cholesterol and Why is High Cholesterol Bad?

Cholesterol is a type of fat that your body makes and can be found in many foods. It is an essential component of the cells in your body, as well as being a part of important molecules your body makes for various different jobs.

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Having high cholesterol (hypercholesteremia) is bad because it is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The high cholesterol leads to plaques that form inside of blood vessels, which causes them to become narrowed (atherosclerosis). This narrowing, in turn, increases the risk for heart attack and stroke.

There are two main types of cholesterol that can affect risk for disease. The first is Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL). This cholesterol is often called “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to the formation of plaque. The second type of cholesterol is High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), also known as the “good” cholesterol. This means that you should aim for a low LCL, or bad cholesterol level, and a high HDL, or good cholesterol level.

There are multiple causes of high cholesterol including: genetics, age, diabetes, obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, and poor diet. Many of these risk factors can be controlled by living a healthy lifestyle. If you have any questions about high cholesterol, or would like help managing these risk factors, the Healthy Lifestyle Center is here to support you!

Read more about how to control your cholesterol here: Control Your Cholesterol

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Park, Y. M. M., Sui, X., Liu, J., Zhou, H., Kokkinos, P. F., Lavie, C. J., ... & Blair, S. N. (2015). The effect of cardiorespiratory fitness on age-related lipids and lipoproteins. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 65(19), 2091-2100.

Image source:

By Npatchett - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39235257