Cholesterol is as much our friend as is our foe! Its presence is imperative for our good health as it is vital for the production of certain hormones, vitamins, and cell membranes. Read on to know more about this lipid and how it can harm our health.

Cholesterol is a lipid that is waxy and fat like substance produced naturally by our liver. It has various uses as it is required for the formation of vitamin D, certain hormone, and the cell membrane. Cholesterol does not dissolve in water and thus cannot travel in our blood stream. For the cholesterol to travel, our body produces lipoproteins that are part fat and part proteins. These lipoproteins carry the cholesterol particles through the blood stream.

There are two major types of lipoproteins LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). Presence of too much LDL cholesterol is known as hypercholesterolemia. If left untreated, high cholesterol levels may lead to heart attack or stroke.

LDL or bad cholesterol. LDL molecules carry cholesterol to the arteries and if the levels of LDL cholesterol is too high, it can build up on the walls of the arteries. This buildup of the LDL cholesterol is known as cholesterol plaque, which can narrow the arteries, limit the blood flow, and lead to clotting of the blood. If the blood clot blocks the arteries of your heart then it leads to heart attack and if it blocks the arteries of your brain then it leads to stroke.

HDL or good cholesterol. HDL helps to return the LDL cholesterol to the liver and eventually be removed from the body. It helps to prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries, thus higher the HDL cholesterol level, lower is the risk of blood clot formation.

Triglycerides. Triglycerides are another kinds of lipid that are a bit different from the usual cholesterol as the body uses triglycerides as a source of energy. The additional calories that we eat are converted in to triglycerides and these triglycerides are stored in fat cells. Lipoproteins are also used to circulate triglycerides through the body. If one tends to over eat regularly then the levels of triglycerides are high in the body and may increase the risk of several health problems including stroke and heart attack.

Post 20 years of age it is recommended that one must get cholesterol levels checked regularly. Consuming high amounts of cholesterol, trans fat, and saturated fat rich foods increase the risk of developing high cholesterol levels. Apart from that, smoking, genetics, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and an inactivity lifestyle are also reasons for a high cholesterol level.

So, to lower the high levels of bad cholesterol one must:

Change the dietary habits Exercise regularly Quit smoking and tobacco consumption Or, seek medical help by taking medicines.