What Is Cholesterol?
Edited by Guy Slowik MD FRCS. Last updated on January 31st 2011
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is made in the body by the liver. Cholesterol forms part of every cell in the body and serves many vital functions. Our bodies need cholesterol to:
- Maintain healthy cell walls
- Make hormones (the body's chemical messengers)
- Make vitamin D
- Make bile acids, which aid in fat digestion
Sometimes, however, our bodies make more cholesterol than we really need, and this excess cholesterol circulates in the bloodstream. High levels of cholesterol in the blood can clog blood vessels and increase the risk for heart disease and stroke.