Cholesterol is a form of fat that plays many metabolic functions in the body. Cholesterols make up the membranes (walls) of cells. They also regulate transport of substances from one cell to the other. It plays a role in absorption and synthesis of some vitamins in the body. There are numerous other functions that cholesterol has in the body. A healthy level of cholesterol is a very good thing. There are two different types of cholesterol that are important to know about. LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein) are two cholesterols that can dictate whether your cholesterol levels are dangerous or not.
Cholesterol has a bad reputation because too much cholesterol is a popular condition to have, especially among Americans. Having more HDL cholesterol than LDL is very desirable. High LDL levels are associated with atherosclerosis, which is the clogging of arteries. When cholesterol starts building up in the artery walls it disrupts the flow of blood. Eventually the blood flow can become so constricted that it can result in many different kinds of fatal heart diseases.
Total cholesterol levels are ideally under 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood. Especially for adults, it is wise to get total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL cholesterol levels measured. You can have your doctor guide you through the process because you have to have a very small amount of blood drawn and it must be sent to a lab to be tested. It may sound like an annoying chore, but you heart health is on the line.