Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found inside every cell in your body and is a necessary substance that your body requires to function properly. Cholesterol does such things as make hormones, Vitamin D, and substances that help you to digest foods.
If you have ever tried to mix oil and water you know that they do not mix. Cholesterol and blood are the same as oil and water. Therefore cholesterol is carried through the blood by something called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins are made up of fat (inside) and proteins (outside). There are different types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol through your body.
LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) is also known as the "bad" cholesterol. This type of cholesterol in large quantities leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. Over time, this can lead to heart disease.
HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein), or "good" cholesterol, carries cholesterol from various parts of your body to your liver. The liver then removes the cholesterol from your body. High HDL (good) cholesterol reduces your risk of getting heart disease whereas high LDL (bad) cholesterol increases your risk of getting heart disease.
The following chart shows the ranges for total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels.
Total Cholesterol Level
Less than 200 mg/dL
240 mg/dL and above
LDL Cholesterol Level
LDL Cholesterol Category
Less than 100 mg/dL
Near optimal/above optimal
You should get your cholesterol tested regularly. If your cholesterol is considered high, work with your doctor to identify a treatment plan that is right for you. Your doctor may suggest making lifestyle changes such as modifying your diet, reducing your weight, and increasing your level of physical activity. If lifestyle changes aren't enough to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol, your physician may discuss other treatment options. Because everyone is different, it is important to work with your doctor to identify the treatment plan that is right for you.