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Everything you need to know about cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in every cell in the body which is produced naturally by the liver and can also be obtained from the diet. Found in all animal food products, it is vital for the maintenance of cell membranes, production of vitamin D and bile acid. Cholesterol is also important in the production of many key hormones such as testosterone and oestrogen.
As cholesterol travels around the body in the blood, it is bound to small proteins called lipoproteins. High-density lipoproteins (HDL), remove cholesterol from our tissues, take it back to the liver where the cholesterol is recycled. Because of their role in the body, HDL is often referred to as the “good cholesterol” and offer a protective role. In contrast, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are commonly known as ‘bad cholesterol’ because they carry cholesterol from the liver to our tissues, depositing it on our artery walls. This eventually leads to fatty plaques developing which block the blood vessels and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Although high levels of LDL in our bodies have a negative effect, these proteins are still important for our health as at low levels they are useful in the production of vitamin D and steroid hormones.