Cholesterol itself is not really all that bad for the heart and body. But, too much of it is very alarming and can lead to serious health problems like heart disease and stroke.

Cardiovascular, or heart disease, is the leading cause of mortality in our society today. There are numerous factors that increase your risk of getting these life-threatening diseases. The number one common risk factor for heart attacks and strokes is an increased level of cholesterol. Other predisposing factors such as lack of exercise, poor diet and cigarette smoking may also contribute to a higher risk of this incidence.

Everyone should be aware that living a healthy lifestyle is wealth. In order to prevent heart ailments, it is imperative for everyone, especially for those people who are in their late 20's and early 30's, to start taking care of their heart and try to be conscious about their diet.

Let's take a closer look at what cholesterol is to give us a better understanding of how it functions on its own and find out why high cholesterol is bad for our health.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty or waxy substance that is found in the bloodstream. It is a lipid that is mainly required for hormone synthesis, cellular repair and building. The two major sources of cholesterol are from your liver and from the foods that you eat.

Basically, cholesterol is merely not as bad as it looks. In fact, it generally helps the body to become fully functional and also aids in building healthy cells. It is essential for hormonal synthesis that enables the distribution of vitamins, minerals and other essential substances needed for cell growth and normal cell function.

Contrary to popular belief having cholesterol is not necessarily a bad thing. Our bodies need certain depths of it in order to function properly. But, having elevated cholesterol levels is not the same case. It is known to increase the risk of certain heart diseases such as CAD or coronary artery disease.

Good versus Bad Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a mixture of protein molecules that form the substance called lipoproteins. These lipoproteins are classified into two categories – the low density lipoprotein (LDL) and the high density lipoprotein (HDL).

The low density lipoproteins, also known as the “bad cholesterol”, function as the primary transporters of cholesterol into the cell. However, an increased or imbalanced number of it may cause deposition of lipoproteins into the arterial vessels of the body. Thus, it signifies a plaque formation that clogs the arteries which increases the incidence of cardiovascular diseases.

The high density lipoproteins on the other hand are known as the “good cholesterol”. They transport bad lipoproteins away from the cells of the arterial wall to the liver for excretion. Therefore, this type of cholesterol attaches to those bad ones and transports it for elimination.

Having an increased amount of LDL in the bloodstream is not good. That is the essence of why high cholesterol is bad for the heart and body. In order to keep the cholesterol levels balanced, it is a must to follow a healthy lifestyle that is focused on having increased activity, following a recommended dietary course and abstinence from smoking and alcohol consumption.