Cholesterol is a fat-like substance (lipid) found in all body cells. Your liver makes all of the cholesterol your body needs to form cell membranes and make certain hormones. Extra cholesterol enters your body when you eat foods that come from animals (meats, eggs and dairy products). Although we often blame the cholesterol found in foods that we eat for raising blood cholesterol, the main culprit is saturated fat, which is also found in our food.
So, we should limit foods high in cholesterol or saturated fat. Foods rich in saturated fat include butter, fat from red meat and tropical oils such as coconut oil. Cholesterol travels to cells through the bloodstream in special carriers called lipoproteins. Two of the most important lipoproteins are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Doctors look at how LDL and HDL relate to each other and to total cholesterol. LDL particles deliver cholesterol to your cells. LDL cholesterol is often called “bad cholesterol” because high levels are thought to lead to the development of heart disease. Too much LDL in the blood causes plaque to form on artery walls, which starts a disease process called atherosclerosis. When plaque builds up in the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart, you are at greater risk for having a heart attack. HDL particles carry cholesterol from your cells back to your liver, where it can be eliminated from your body. HDL is known as “good cholesterol” because high levels are thought to lower your risk for heart disease.