Learn the Facts: Cholesterol

Learn the functions and uses of cholesterol in the body in order to better comprehend a very commonly misunderstood molecule.

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Most of us have been taught about the evils of cholesterol. Even though too much of a good thing is bad, the fact is the body uses cholesterol to perform many vital functions.

There’s good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. At the doctor, you may see the letters LDL, or low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol), and HDL, high density lipoprotein (good cholesterol). Dr. Oz considers your cholesterol levels to be one of the 5 lifesaving numbers you need to know. However, doctors have different opinions on how “good” and “bad” cholesterol affect the heart and whether taking a cholesterol-lowering drug, like a statin, can help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.

In order to figure out what’s right for you, read some facts about cholesterol and get the full picture of this commonly misunderstood molecule.

Where Does Cholesterol Come From?

We get cholesterol primarily from two sources: our food and our body. We manufacture cholesterol naturally all over our body, but mostly in the liver.

Another major source of cholesterol is our diet. You can find high levels of cholesterol in foods like egg yolks, whole milk, liver and some foods high in saturated fat.

Why Is Cholesterol Sometimes Good for You?

Cholesterol serves as a backbone for your cellular membrane. It sticks inside the cell wall, functioning as a support structure.

Your body also uses the cholesterol molecule to make important hormones, like testosterone, estrogen, cortisol and progesterone. Your digestive system also uses cholesterol to build bile acids, which help the body absorb fats and other important nutrients. (Your body does need some fat in order to survive.)