What is Cholesterol?

(cheery music) Cholesterol. It’s essential to your well-being. But what do you really know about it? Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is cholesterol? Well, it’s a waxy fat-like substance that’s made in your liver and travels throughout your bloodstream. It’s a key ingredient that your body needs to make new cells. But too much cholesterol can lead to serious problems, such as heart disease and stroke. Here’s why. You see, there are actually two main types of cholesterol. LDL and HDL. LDL, or low density lipoprotein, is sometimes called bad cholesterol because it can build up inside your arteries, which causes them to narrow, which can lead to heart disease or stroke. That’s why you should try to keep your LDL low. Think of it this way. The “L” in LDL is for lower or lousy. On the other hand HDL, or high density lipoprotein, is the good kind of cholesterol. It carries LDL, the bad stuff, away from your arteries and back to your liver where it’s broken down and processed by your body. That’s why you want your HDL to be higher. In this case, the “H” in HDL is for higher or healthy. There’s actually a third component known as triglycerides, which plays a role in your cholesterol health. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in your body and their job is to store excess fat from your diet. Elevated triglycerides along with low HDL and high LDL can also increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. So it’s important to keep your triglyceride levels low. For anyone who’s had their cholesterol checked, it’s only natural to focus on your cholesterol score, or the actual numbers. But the numbers don’t really tell the whole story about your health. That’s why it’s important to discuss all of your risk factors with your healthcare provider including risk factors that you can change, like eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of physical activity, and quitting smoking. Controlling your cholesterol may be easier than you think, but it all starts with getting your cholesterol checked. It’s a quick and easy test. So if you’re due to have your levels checked or if you’ve never had them checked make it a priority. Taking the next step in managing your health is as easy as CCC. Check Change and Control your cholesterol. Get started now by visiting heart.org/cholesterol. (cheery music)

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