Cholesterol and triglycerides are fatty substances in your body. Fats in your body are called lipids.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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