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Understanding Cholesterol

What is Cholesterol and Why is Too Much of it Dangerous?


According to the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute, high blood cholesterol affects more than 65 million Americans. It's a serious, often symptomless condition that increases our risk of heart disease. The higher our blood cholesterol level, specifically low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the greater the risk. Taking steps to reduce high cholesterol through diet, medication, lifestyle changes, or a combination of these, reduces this risk. About.com's comprehensive Cholesterol site offers great advice, answers key questions, and keeps us informed about how to manage this important health concern.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance made in the liver and also found in many foods -- chiefly animal products -- from meat to eggs to dairy. Despite all we hear about cholesterol, and how it can clog our arteries, our bodies actually need it. But how much cholesterol do we need, and what kind?

What are the Different Types of Cholesterol?

Do you know your HDL from your LDL? How about your VLDL? Know which type of cholesterol is good cholesterol and which is bad, and know what your numbers should be.

How Does Cholesterol Work?

Cholesterol performs certain key functions in the body, from making hormones to making bile salts that help digest fats. Find out more about its structure and how cholesterol moves from the liver to the various organs in our body.

What Causes High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol is assumed to be a result of eating a poor diet, and that's certainly a major risk factor, but high cholesterol can be caused by factors beyond our control such as age, gender, and family history. Learn more about the causes of high cholesterol, and what steps you can take to control it.

What are the Risks of High Cholesterol?

Because having high cholesterol doesn't in itself produce symptoms, people may be unaware they have it, or if they are aware, choose to ignore it. Yet high cholesterol is a major risk factor for a number of diseases that can kill. If you don’t know your cholesterol numbers, get them checked, and soon.

Myths Surrounding High Cholesterol

Do you think you're too young to worry about high cholesterol? Isn't high cholesterol limited to certain groups of the population, or just to those who eat too much fatty food? Perhaps you're in the clear if you eat a bowl of oatmeal every day. Find out about some of these common misconceptions about high cholesterol.

How to Prevent or Control High Cholesterol

There are certain key steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing high cholesterol, which in turn will help cut your risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and dementia.
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