woman at grocery store

What is Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy-fatty substance found in plants, animals and in all human cells. Our bodies need to make enough cholesterol so that the cells can work properly.

There are two types of cholesterol that our bodies need:

  • high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
  • low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol

The Good Cholesterol:

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or the "good" cholesterol, carries the cholesterol to the liver, which filters the blood and removes the cholesterol from our bodies. A higher level of HDL decreases the risk for developing heart disease. Plant and fish products are good sources of HDL cholesterol.

The Bad Cholesterol:

The LDL cholesterol is considered "bad" when there's too much in the blood stream (hyperlipidemia). Food sources that can raise the LDL cholesterol come from animal fat, such as beef, poultry and some processed foods. Food labels often list these as saturated fats.


Last review date: February 11, 2019