Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in cell walls that comes from the body and the foods we eat. This brochure explains these two sources, the two types of blood cholesterol, and ways to control cholesterol.
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THIS INFORMATION IS INTENDED FOR US CONSUMERS
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in cell walls that comes from 2 sources:
The body, especially the liver, makes all the cholesterol it needs, and this is used to make essential substances like hormones and bile acids.
The food we eat
Dietary cholesterol is found in foods from animal sources, such as meats, liver and other organ meats, dairy foods, egg yolks, and shellfish.
Cholesterol circulates in the blood throughout the body. Your liver produces more cholesterol when you eat a diet high in saturated and trans fats.
Types of blood cholesterol
Too much LDL cholesterol can combine with other substances in the blood and stick to the walls of your arteries, forming plaque, which is a culprit in narrowing the arteries and can lead to heart disease.
Ways to control cholesterol
Adopt a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
This fat is usually solid at room and refrigerator temperatures. It is found in greatest amounts in foods from animals, such as fatty cuts of meat, poultry with skin, whole-milk dairy products, and lard, as well as in some vegetable oils, including coconut and palm oils.
Studies show that too much saturated fat in your diet leads to higher LDL levels. Populations that tend to eat more saturated fat have higher cholesterol levels and more heart disease than those with lower intakes. Reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet is a very effective way to lower LDL.
Also called trans-fatty acids, it tends to raise blood cholesterol similarly to saturated fat. Trans fat is found mainly in foods made with hydrogenated vegetable oils, such as many hard margarines and shortenings. The harder the margarine or shortening, the more likely it is to contain more trans fat.
Always talk to your doctor about what is best for you. Ask your doctor before starting any treatments or making changes in your routine or medicine.
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.