Cholesterol : The Bad and the Good

Cholesterol is a kind of fat found in your blood. Your liver makes it because cells and certain organs need it. Your body also gets cholesterol from some of the foods you eat. But if your body gets too much, the cholesterol can do serious damage, especially inside your arteries.

Some people think that all cholesterol is “bad.” But there are different kinds of cholesterol, and too much of one kind certainly is bad. But there’s another kind of cholesterol that is “good” because it helps keep your body well.

The “bad” cholesterol is called LDL or low-density lipoprotein. LDL can damage your arteries that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Then once the damage has started, LDL keeps on penetrating and building up in the artery walls.

The “good” cholesterol is known as HDL or high-density lipoprotein. HDL circulates through your body, acting like a cholesterol magnet. It gathers up the bad cholesterol and moves it out of your arteries. Eventually, much of the cholesterol is either eliminated from your body, delivered to tissues such as the liver, or used to make hormones.

As plaques grow inside your arteries, they eventually start to block the flow of blood. Some LDL-rich plaques grow in a slow, controlled way. While they may eventually narrow arteries enough to cause symptoms, the body generally adapts. And this type of blockage seldom causes heart attack

But other plaques are unstable. The white blood cells and other cells the body sends to consume the plaque also release enzymes. These enzymes dissolve some of the tissue called collagen that holds the plaque together. When that happens, the plaque deposit can rupture. Then the debris from it can cause a blood clot to form inside the artery. Sometimes, within minutes, this clot can cut off the blood that goes to the heart or the brain and cause a heart attack or stroke.

I hope now you have a clear idea about cholesterol, their types and harmful effects when consumed in excess.