When most people discuss cholesterol, specifically high cholesterol, we usually refer to the bad type of cholesterol called LDL.
By learning more about LDL cholesterol you can better understand how cholesterol interacts with your body and so keep yourself more healthy, lower your cholesterol and help prevent heart attacks and strokes - both of which can be fatal.
So read on to find out how cholesterol affects your body.
We need cholesterol Believe it or not, cholesterol is actually needed by the body.
It is a soft, waxy fat which can be found in the blood stream and is used for the production of things such as cell membranes and certain hormones.
Without a small amount of cholesterol we could die.
The thing is our liver produces enough cholesterol, so we rarely need to take in any extra in order to survive.
The problem however in modern society is that many of our foods contain very high cholesterol levels, which has lead to a new problem of hypercholesterolemia, or more simply, high cholesterol.
Here's the problem...
The problem isn't actually high cholesterol, it is the result of having high cholesterol which is potentially a serious problem.
LDL or low density lipoproteins carry cholesterol to all parts of your body through your blood stream.
Thus when you have high cholesterol levels, your body need to produce more LDL to carry the extra cholesterol molecules.
It is these lipoproteins that are an issue in high numbers.
As when too many are in the blood stream, your body isn't able to absorb them, thus they stick to the walls of your arteries and veins, which can grow hard and create what are known as plaques.
So if you have high cholesterol for a sustained period of time, plaques can build up and can eventually completely inhibit the flow of blood to the heart, causing a heart attack.
If a portion or chunk of a plaque breaks off, and travels through your blood stream towards the small blood vessels of the brain, this can cut off the blood supply to the brain, causing a stroke.
In both cases the results can be fatal.
Usually high cholesterol levels can be effectively controlled through careful diet and medication, your doctor should be able to give you some pointers and a plan of action if you are worried.
Not all cholesterol is bad (that's another article), so if you are a generally healthy person, and you watch your trans-fat intake and the amount of high cholesterol foods you eat you should be able to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.