What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance, that is transported through the blood. Since cholesterol is fatty and blood mainly consists of water, the two do not mix. Therefore, cholesterol moves in the blood in packets called lipoproteins.
There are several types of lipoproteins flowing in the blood with each having an effect on the body. These packets, when measured together, constitute the bulk of your total cholesterol.
The vast majority of your total cholesterol exists as low density lipoproteins (LDL). LDL is mainly responsible for plaque build up along the artery walls. This buildup is thought to be the underlying cause of many heart related disorders. For these reasons, LDL is sometimes referred to as the “bad” cholesterol.
High density lipoproteins (HDL) can reduce some of the risks of high total cholesterol by helping the body to get rid of LDL (the "bad") cholesterol. This is why some literature refers to HDL as the “good” cholesterol.
While HDL and LDL form over 80% of your total cholesterol, a final measurement is required in order to complete your lipoprotein profile.
Triglycerides are another form of fat transported through your blood. Triglycerides are mainly separate from cholesterol, however, about 20% of triglycerides are packaged with cholesterol. When total cholesterol is measured, this fraction of triglycerides is included. Click here for more details about triglycerides.
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