What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is produced naturally by the liver and other organs. It's also absorbed through foods including meats, poultry, fish and dairy products. Your body needs cholesterol to insulate nerves, make cell membranes and produce certain hormones. It is carried through the body by lipoproteins in the blood.

The Good & the Bad:

  • "Good" cholesterol is called HDL (High Density Lipoprotein). HDL transports cholesterol from the body's tissues to the liver and other organs, where it is broken down and excreted by the body.
  • "Bad" cholesterol is known as LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein). LDL transports cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body.

The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) advises adults to have cholesterol levels checked - total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol - at least once every five years. Your doctor can customize a program of diet and exercise, and prescribe medication if necessary, to reduce your risk of heart disease and keep you healthy.