We often hear about cholesterol, but what exactly is it? Cholesterol is a fatty substance, a type of lipid, that is produced by your body, but it can also be found in food.1 In your body, your liver makes cholesterol. In fact, most of the cholesterol in your body is made by your liver.1 The rest of the cholesterol in your body – a much smaller amount – comes from foods including meat and eggs.2
What does cholesterol do?
Our bodies don’t need a lot of cholesterol, but it’s essential to have some. This is because your body makes hormones, Vitamin D and digestive fluids from cholesterol.3 Plus the walls of all your cells, particularly the nervous system ones, are built with cholesterol.1 But, as you probably know, too much of the wrong type of cholesterol can be bad for you.
Good vs. bad cholesterol – what’s the difference?
Cholesterol is transported around your body in your blood, where it is carried by substances called lipoproteins. It is either carried by HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or LDL (low-density lipoprotein).1
It’s these lipoproteins that make cholesterol “good” or “bad”.
When cholesterol is carried by LDL, it’s called “bad cholesterol”, or LDL cholesterol.1
When cholesterol is carried by HDL, it’s called “good” cholesterol, or HDL cholesterol.1
Create infographic with more information about each when you tap/click
Why is high LDL cholesterol bad?
LDL carries cholesterol to your arteries1
Over time cholesterol can build up and form plaques in your arteries1
Plaques can block arteries and disrupt the flow of oxygen-rich blood to organs, creating damage to the arteries1
A plaque can eventually break off, creating a clot which blocks arteries and may lead to a heart attack or stroke4
Why is high HDL cholesterol good?
HDL carries cholesterol from your arteries to the liver, reducing the risk of plaque creation1
our liver can dispose of this cholesterol1
Getting the balance right
A total cholesterol test will measure your levels of both types of cholesterol – your good HDL cholesterol and your bad LDL cholesterol. It’s the ratio between your good HDL cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol that’s important.5 Getting the balance right can help lower your risk of heart disease.5
Healthy cholesterol levels
For adults, these are the healthy cholesterol levels that you should aim for.6
Total cholesterol: 200 mg/dL or less
Good HDL cholesterol: 60 mg/dL or more
Bad LDL cholesterol: 100 mg/dL or less
Maintaining the balance
You can do a lot to help keep your cholesterol levels balanced. For starters, a healthy fibre-rich diet will help.7 Natural plant-based fibre supplements, such as soluble fibre from corn, can give you a fibre boost and help you manage your cholesterol levels.8To learn about how taking this type of natural supplement can play a role in cholesterol balance, read more here.