Cholesterol (kuh-LES-tuh-rawl) is a type of fat found in your blood. You need cholesterol to help your brain, skin, and other organs grow and work the way they should.
Your liver makes cholesterol for your body. You also get cholesterol from some of the foods you eat — especially animal products like meat, eggs, butter, cheese, and milk.
Your body needs some cholesterol to help your organs grow and work. But too much cholesterol in the blood can clog the arteries that carry blood around your body. People with high cholesterol might need to take medicine to lower the amount that floats around in their blood.
If cholesterol builds up in a person's blood vessels over many years, it might lead to:
Both kids and adults can have too much cholesterol in their blood. Doctors can find out what your cholesterol level is by ordering a blood test.
There are two main types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL. The cholesterol blood test tells how much of each kind you have.
Here's an easy way to remember which is which: LDL starts with "l" for "lousy." HDL starts with "h" for "healthy."
Foods with cholesterol include:
And here are some foods that don't have cholesterol:
It's OK to eat some food with cholesterol. You just don't want to eat too much. Many of the foods that have cholesterol are also high in saturated and trans fats. Those two kinds of fat can increase LDL cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol increase a person's chances of having heart disease and strokes.
If a blood test shows you have high cholesterol, talk to your doctor. He or she can give you advice on what you can do to lower your cholesterol — like eating less fried food and choosing low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt.
Plaque can start building up in the arteries when people are in their teens. That's why it's good to keep your heart healthy now.
Here are four things you can do:
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: May 2015
|American Heart Association This group is dedicated to providing education and information on fighting heart disease and stroke. Contact the American Heart Association at: American Heart Association|
7272 Greenville Ave.
Dallas, TX 75231
|Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.|
|ChooseMyPlate.gov ChooseMyPlate.gov provides practical information on how to follow the U.S. government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It includes resources and tools to help families lead healthier lives.|
|American Council on Exercise (ACE) ACE promotes active, healthy lifestyles by setting certification and education standards for fitness instructors and through ongoing public education about the importance of exercise.|
|Go, Slow, and Whoa! A Quick Guide to Healthy Eating Looking for an easy way to eat healthier? This article provides tips on choosing the right foods - and an easy-to-follow chart to guide you.|
|How Can I Lose Weight Safely? Lots of people are unhappy with their present weight, but aren't sure how to change it - or even if they need to. Get the facts on weight loss here.|
|Easy Exercises for Teens Finding it hard to fit in fitness? Try these easy exercises for teens.|
|Heart and Circulatory System The heart and circulatory system (also called the cardiovascular system) make up the network that delivers blood to the body's tissues.|
|Your Secrets to Healthy Snacking More than 1,000 teens took our survey on healthy snacking. Here are their thoughts (and advice) on choosing healthy snacks.|
|Smart Supermarket Shopping You don't need to be a dietitian to figure out how to make healthy food choices. Before grabbing a shopping cart and heading for the aisles, read this article to make grocery shopping a snap.|
|Figuring Out Fat and Calories From all you hear, you'd think fat and calories are really bad for you, but we all need a certain amount of them in our diets. Find out the truth about fat and calories.|
|Nutrition & Fitness Center Visit our nutrition and fitness center for teens to get information and advice on food, exercise, and sports.|
|When Being Overweight Is a Health Problem A couple of pounds of extra body fat are not a health risk for most people. But when people are severely overweight, it can cause health problems.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.