Cholesterol is produced by the body (liver) and is structurally a combination of lipid (fat) and steroid. It is an important part of the outer lining of cells in mammals and is essential for normal body functioning.
The word ‘cholesterol’ comes from the Greek word ‘chole’
, meaning ‘bile’ and ‘stereos’
, meaning ‘solid’.
Cholesterol is found in all body cells. It is an important part of a healthy body because it is a constituent of cell membranes and some hormones, and serves several body functions.
The liver produces about 80% of cholesterol present in the body and rest comes from dietary sources including meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. Dietary cholesterol is absorbed from the intestine and stored in the liver and secreted when it is needed by the body.
Cholesterol is carried in the blood by the lipoproteins-
- LDL (low density lipoprotein)
- HDL (high density lipoprotein)
The target serum cholesterol level should be under 5mmol/liter. A high level of cholesterol in the blood is called hypercholesterolemia
. It is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke. Certain lifestyle modifications and medicines can help lower the elevated blood cholesterol levels.