Is cholesterol good or bad?

Ok, so as you guessed there isn’t a short answer to this!
First of all lets just cover what cholesterol is. Cholesterol is basically a large lipid molecule (waxy substance) produced and released into the bloodstream by cells in the liver but it is also found in some foods. Unlike other lipids, cholesterol cannot be used by the body for energy, instead it is used for the production of steroid hormones, the synthesis of bile acids and vitamin D. Our livers actually produce the majority of our cholesterol needs, with only around 20% needing to come from our diets. Because cholesterol is a lipid (fat) it is not water-soluble and will not mix with blood, so our bodies use little transporters called lipoproteins. Very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) These are synthesised by the liver and carry cholesterol and triglycerides (another type of fat). Their job is to transport triglycerides into adipose tissue (fat storage). Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) These are formed from VLDLs once the VLDLs have unloaded most of their triglycerides. LDLs deposit the cholesterol they carry on the artery walls and begin a process called atherosclerosis. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) HDLs remove cholesterol from the blood stream and the artery walls, which is why they are often known as good cholesterol, unlike the former two, which are known as bad cholesterol. So to answer the original question, cholesterol is actually very good but unfortunately it can also be very bad. Cholesterol is essential to life but if we have too much of it in our blood then is can deposit on our artery walls and lead to cardiovascular disease. When you have your blood cholesterol checked you are usually given a score. Total cholesterol score = HDL + LDL + Triglycerides In the UK the desirable upper limit of total cholesterol is 5.2mmol/dL. If levels are above this then lifestyle changes, such as increasing your activity levels are recommended.

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