We hear about cholesterol and how it leads to cardiovascular disease and now cancer. People have latched on to that and focused on reducing “cholesterol” levels using a frantic all-fat-is-bad mantra.
Let’s go through this step by step so we can see what “cholesterol” really is and what is optimal for your health.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a general term for different varieties of a fat-like substance in your body. Different forms of cholesterol are responsible for different bodily functions.
Your liver produces and transforms cholesterol and you get it from foods you eat.
Cholesterol is found in every cell of the body and travels through the bloodstream in packets called lipoprotein: protein on the outside and fat (lipo) on the inside, like a chocolate-covered caramel.
The two forms of cholesterol that get the most press are high-density lipoprotein (HDL, the “good” cholesterol) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the “bad” cholesterol).
Judgements aside, your body needs both.
Balance between the two is the key to avoid detrimental affects of either. LDL has been labelled the “bad” cholesterol because it’s been found to lead to heart disease if the balance between it and HDL is out of whack with a consistently much higher level of LDL.