Cholesterol Basics: Where’s the Bad Stuff Coming From?

Cholesterol.  The word itself evokes fear in the “heart” of Americans.  There is some validity behind this fear considering cholesterol is believed to contribute to arteriosclerosis, e.g. hardening of the arteries.

Cholesterol is produced by the body to help transport fat from the liver after it is absorbed into the body.  Some cholesterol, though, comes from food.  Most food-based cholesterol is often LDL.  LDL cholesterol travels to the cells, where it can cause damage and build-up.  HDL is carried away from the cells to the liver where it can be excreted.  Most of your body’s natural cholesterol is HDL. It is considered beneficial to have better HDL numbers and lower LDL numbers in cholersterol blood tests.

Get to Know Cholesterol

Arteriosclerosis is the the main contributor to cardiovascular disease and stroke, the number 1 and number 3 killers in America.  So what is cholesterol and is it a defect of the body that we make it? Understanding the answers to these questions can help us dispel some of our fear of cholesterol and give us a more well rounded understanding of how to approach the cholesterol issue.

Why Is It Important?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced by animals for a number of different functions in the body. It is the precursor to hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and cortisol, which are all valuable hormones.

We need cholesterol for the production of vitamin D in the body. We also use cholesterol to help stabilize the cell walls that surround each cell in our body. We need to think of the cells in our body as flexible, with a little bit of give to them. It may help to think about the difference between a sponge and a stone, or our skin and our bones. Our body likes to regulate how much give each cell has. Cholesterol is the key. Too much and our cells stiffen, and too little and our cells lose the ability to keep their form.

You can begin to see why too much cholesterol can lead to “hardening of the arteries.” This is not the whole story, but it helps show some of cholesterol’s role in heart disease and stroke.


  1. Thanks for the post. I’m learning more and more about how to prevent cholesterol