What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of lipid (fat), found in the blood, which our body needs.
The body gets cholesterol in two ways:
- from the liver
- by eating animal food products
Types of cholesterol
There are three types of cholesterol.
- Low density lipoproteins (LDL): the “bad cholesterol”
- High density lipoproteins (HDL): the “good cholesterol”
- Triglycerides: a form of fat carried in the blood that contributes to the fat that is stored in the body’s tissues. High-fat foods, sugar and alcohol contribute to high levels of triglycerides.
Desirable cholesterol levels
- Total cholesterol: Less than 4.5 mmol/L
- HDL cholesterol: Greater than 1.0 mmol/L
- LDL cholesterol: Less than 2.0 mmol/L or a 50% reduction
- Triglycerides: Less than 1.7 mmol/L
- Total Cholesterol to HDL Cholesterol Ratio: Less than 4.0
Why is Cholesterol a Risk Factor?
Too much LDL cholesterol contributes to plaque formation (build-up) in the coronary arteries. LDL acts like a “dump truck”, depositing LDL cholesterol into the arteries and causing blockages. A blockage makes it difficult for blood to pass through the vessels. Blockages can lead to a heart attack.
Learn what happens during a heart attack »
Low levels of HDL cholesterol also increase the risk for heart disease. HDL cholesterol acts like a “garbage truck”, taking LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and eliminating it through the liver.
High levels of triglycerides increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Learn More About Cholesterol