What is Cholesterol? A Definition

If you’re interested in finding out about cholesterol, you’ve come to the right place. From explaining the definition of cholesterol to offering handy diet and lifestyle tips, the ProActiv site is designed to provide you with lots of helpful information and resources, so that you can find the information you need to make positive changes to your lifestyle and diet. So – what does cholesterol mean?

A simple cholesterol definition

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in the body. It plays a vital role in how every cell works – but having too much cholesterol in the blood is one of the risk factors in the development of coronary heart disease. There are many risk factors for coronary heart disease, and it is important to take care of all of them to reduce the overall risk of it.

Cholesterol makes its way around the body in molecules called lipoproteins. There are two kinds that are particularly important, especially when we consider why one kind of cholesterol might be good, and another bad: LDL-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol.

LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein)-cholesterol, is often called “bad cholesterol”, since it contains a relatively high amount of cholesterol that can build up in the arterial walls. However, HDL (High Density Lipoprotein)-cholesterol is able to remove and carry cholesterol from the arteries and take it to the liver, where it is eliminated – which is why it is often called “good cholesterol”.

Want to find out more? Check out these articles for a full and comprehensive definition of cholesterol:

What is cholesterol used for?

Your body produces cholesterol because we need it to carry out a number of different functions – it’s an important component of cell membranes and a precursor of hormones and bile acids, which aid digestion.

What is a cholesterol level?

Your cholesterol level is determined via a blood test, and can be performed by your GP or pharmacist. The results indicate not only the quantity, but also the kind of cholesterol in your blood. While you should be keeping your overall total cholesterol down, the ratio of HDL to total cholesterol is also important, as HDL-cholesterol performs a different function to LDL-cholesterol. Find out more, including cholesterol recommendations, in the articles here:

What can I do about my cholesterol?

There are a number of things you can do to help lower your cholesterol to the recommended level. These include:

  • Swapping saturated fats in your diet for low fat or unsaturated fat alternatives;
  • Trying to eat a healthy diet, with plenty of variety and fibre;
  • Introducing foods with added plant sterols to your diet;
  • Maintain a healthy weight; and
  • Stop smoking and limit alcohol consumption.

If you want to continue to keep your body healthy, it’s important you’re aware of the impact diet and lifestyle choices can have on cholesterol levels. Click on the links below to learn more about how to lower cholesterol, sign up for our 21 Day Challenge, or go straight to exploring our recipes and healthy lifestyle tips.

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