What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol (also called a lipid) is a fat-like wax that is naturally produced by the liver. It is necessary to form cell membranes, certain hormones and vitamin D. lipid does not dissolve in water, so it cannot be transmitted through the blood on its own. To help transport cholesterol, the liver produces lipoproteins.

Lipoproteins are molecules made of fats and proteins. Holds lipid and triglycerides (another type of fat) through the bloodstream. The two main forms of lipoprotein are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and HDL.

If your blood contains a lot of bad lipid (cholesterol carried by low-density lipoprotein), it is known as high cholesterol. When high cholesterol is left untreated, it can lead to many health problems, including heart attack or stroke.

High cholesterol usually does not cause any symptoms. That’s why it’s important to check lipid levels regularly. Find out what cholesterol levels are recommended for your age.

Bad cholesterol

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is often called “bad cholesterol.” It transfers lipid to the arteries. If your low-density lipoprotein lipid levels are too high, they can accumulate on the walls of the arteries.

Accumulation is also known as lipid plaque. This plaque can narrow the arteries, reduce blood flow, and increase the risk of blood clots. If a blood clot blocks an artery in your heart or brain, it may cause a heart attack or stroke.

Cholesterol high-density lipoprotein, or “good cholesterol”

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is sometimes called “good cholesterol.” Helps restore low-density lipoprotein lipid to the liver to remove it from the body. This helps prevent the accumulation of lipid deposits in the arteries.

When you have healthy levels of HDL, this can help reduce your risk of blood clots, heart disease and stroke.


Triglycerides are another type of fat that is different from lipid . While your body uses cholesterol to build certain cells and hormones, it uses triglycerides as an energy source.

When you eat more calories than your body can use right away, it converts those calories into triple fats. Stores triglycerides in your fat cells. It also uses lipoproteins to circulate triglycerides through the bloodstream.

If you eat more calories than your body can use regularly, your triglycerides can rise. This may increase your risk of many health problems, including heart disease and stroke.

Check cholesterol levels

If you are 20 years old or older, the American Heart Association recommends checking cholesterol levels at least once every four to six years. If you have a history of high lipid or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, your doctor may encourage you to test your lipid levels often.

Symptoms of high cholesterol

In most cases, high cholesterol is considered a “silent” problem. Usually does not cause any symptoms. Many people don’t even realize they have high lipid until they have serious complications, such as a heart attack or stroke.

This is why routine lipid screening is important. If you are 20 years of age or older, ask your doctor if you should have a routine cholesterol test. Find out how this test can save your life.


Eating too many foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fat and trans-fat may increase your risk of high cholesterol. Other lifestyle factors can also contribute to high lipid . These factors include inactivity and smoking.

Genetic factors can also affect your chances of getting high lipid . Genes are transmitted from parents to children. Some genes guide your body on how to treat cholesterol and fat. If your parents have high cholesterol, you’re more likely to get it as well.

In rare cases, high cholesterol is caused by family hypercholesterolemia. This genetic disorder prevents your body from removing low-density lipoprotein. According to the National Institute for Human Genome Research, most adults with this condition have total lipid levels higher than 300 mg/dL and LDL levels higher than 200 mg/dL.

Other health conditions, such as diabetes and hypothyroidism, may also increase the risk of high lipid and related complications.

Risk factors

You may be more likely to develop high cholesterol if you:

  • Overweight or obese
  • An unhealthy diet
  • Do not exercise regularly
  • Use tobacco products
  • You have a family history of high cholesterol
  • Have diabetes, kidney disease or hypothyroidism

People of all ages, races and races can have high cholesterol. Discover strategies to reduce your risk of high lipid and related complications.


If left untreated, high cholesterol can cause plaque buildup in the arteries. Over time, this plaque can narrow the arteries. This condition is known as atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a serious condition. It can limit blood flow through the arteries. It also increases the risk of serious blood clots. Atherosclerosis can lead to many life-threatening complications, such as:

Chronic kidney failure

How to lower cholesterol

Your doctor may prescribe medications or other treatments to help lower your cholesterol levels. If you have high lipid , your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to help lower it. For example, they may recommend changing your diet, exercise habits or other aspects of your daily routine. If you smoke tobacco products, they are likely to advise you to quit smoking.

Lowering cholesterol through diet

To help you reach and maintain healthy cholesterol levels, your doctor may recommend changes in your diet. For example, they may advise you to:

  • Choose fat-free protein sources, such as chicken, fish and legumes
  • Eat a variety of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Choose baked, grilled, steamy, grilled and roasted foods instead of fried foods
  • Avoid fast food

Foods that are high in cholesterol:

  • Red meat, organic meat, egg yolks and high-fat dairy products
  • Processed foods made from cocoa butter, palm oil or coconut oil
  • Fried foods such as potato chips, onion rings and fried chicken
  • Some baked goods, such as some cookies and cakes

Eating fish and other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids may also help lower LDL levels. For example, salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in omega-3. Walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds and avocados also contain omega-3. Discover other foods that may help lower your cholesterol levels.

What foods are high cholesterol

Dietary cholesterol is found in animal products, such as meat, eggs and dairy products. To help treat high cholesterol, your doctor may encourage you to limit your intake of high cholesterol foods. For example, the following products contain high levels of cholesterol:

  • Pieces of fatty red meat
  • Liver and other organ meats
  • Eggs and especially egg yolks
  • High-fat dairy products, such as full-fat cheese, milk, ice cream and butter

How to lower cholesterol naturally

In some cases, you may be able to lower levels without taking medications. For example, it may be enough to eat a nutritious diet, exercise regularly and avoid smoking tobacco products.

Some people also claim that some herbal and dietary supplements may help lower levels. For example, such allegations have been made about:

  • Garlic
  • Plant-based sterol and stanol supplements
  • Oat bran found in oatmeal and whole oats
  • Ground flaxseed

However, the level of evidence that supports these foods varies. Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any of these products to treat high cholesterol. Further research is needed to see if they can help treat this condition.