Cholesterol and triglycerides are fatty substances in your body. Fats in your body are called lipids.
Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance. Your body needs cholesterol to help build cells, keep your nerves healthy and to make some hormones and other substances. There is some cholesterol in every cell in your body.
Most of the cholesterol in your body doesn’t come from food. It’s made by your liver. Your liver is a large organ that sits just below your ribs on the right side of your body. It checks the amount of glucose, proteins, vitamins, fats and other substances in your blood. And it stores some of these substances if you have too much. Your liver makes cholesterol from the fats you eat, particularly from saturated fats
and trans fats
. Your liver produces all the cholesterol that your body needs.
But you can also get some cholesterol from some foods, including eggs, dairy products and shellfish.
You may have heard about good cholesterol and bad cholesterol.
- Bad cholesterol is the type that can build up in your arteries, making it difficult for the blood to flow through them. This type is called LDL cholesterol. LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein.
- Good cholesterol helps get rid of the bad cholesterol. It’s called HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.
So, it’s not just the amount of cholesterol in your blood that counts; it’s how much there is of each type that’s really important.
It is also important to remember that you cannot burn off cholesterol in your body by exercising. This is why the balance between how much cholesterol your body makes and how much it removes decides the level of cholesterol in your blood.
You may not have heard of triglycerides. If you eat more calories than you can use right away, your body stores the extra calories as triglycerides. They are made from fats and other foods such as carbohydrates. Triglycerides are carried to fat cells, where they are stored until your body needs them for energy.
If you eat more than you need, the fat cells build up and you put on weight. When you haven’t eaten recently, these stores of fat act as a reserve and help to keep your body running. People who exercise regularly have lower levels of triglycerides in their blood.
This information was last updated on Sep 15, 2009