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What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is vital for the body to continue functioning healthily and is an essential part of some hormones and vitamin D. The body can make cholesterol, mainly made in the liver, although it is also found in some of the foods that we eat.

Just like any other nutrient, cholesterol needs to be transported from one part of the body to another in our blood, but because it is a fat it can’t dissolve in blood and is therefore carried by specialised proteins, called lipoproteins. Broadly, there are two main types of cholesterol in the blood, often referred to as 'good’ and ‘bad' cholesterol. Scientifically, these are known as LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

LDL Cholesterol

Most of the cholesterol in our blood is carried by LDL, which transport it from the liver to the rest of the body. Having too much LDL in your bloodstream may contribute to 'furring up' and subsequent blocking of our arteries, which increases our risk of heart attacks, hence why it is described as 'bad cholesterol'. The amount of LDL you have in your bloodstream is influenced by the amount of saturated fat that you eat, so a diet low in saturated fat diet will help to reduce your LDL levels.

HDL Cholesterol

HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ one) carries a lot more protein than fat, and actually removes excess cholesterol from the rest of the body, and transports it back to the liver.

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All information checked by an independent Registered Nutritionist/Dietitian

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