What Is Cholesterol?

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Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body produces naturally, mostly your liver. Sounds gross, but your body can't function without it! You need cholesterol to make hormones like estrogen and testosterone. It's also a key ingredient in cortisol, which is vital for controlling inflammation. Without cholesterol, you can't make vitamin D from sunlight. And, it helps create bile acid so you can digest fat.

Cholesterol is in every single cell, building healthy cell membranes in your brain, nerves, muscles, skin and organs. The best part is that your body makes all the cholesterol you need on its own! But cholesterol also comes from foods like meat and dairy products. And when you eat things high in saturated and trans fats, like animal products and processed foods, your liver produces even more cholesterol!

Too much cholesterol causes plaque to build up in your arteries, making it harder for your heart to pump blood through your body. Plaque can also cause blood clots to form, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.

So as you can see, it's important to keep your cholesterol levels healthy and balanced. You'll be doing your heart and health a favor!