21 April 2009

What is Cholesterol anyway?

Image: Mr Jaded

"I've been reckless, but I'm not a rebel without a cause"
Angelina Jolie

This being week one of
The Great Cholesterol Challenge I thought I'd have a look at what cholesterol actually is.

Who is Cholesterol and What Does He Do?

So there’s this group of lipids/fats in the body called sterols and cholesterol rolls with them. Cholesterol is like a pretty key gang member, he can be found anywhere at anytime, he’s part of our cell membranes, keeping things stable. It’s pretty important that our cell wall is kept good and strong, we need the goods to get in and out without any fuss and our buddy Cholesterol helps facilitate in his stylin smooth way.

Like I said Cholesterol is up in everywhere, he’s the main man, he helps make all kinds of hormones and bile salts, he even hangs out in the skin gettin some rays and makin some vitamin D for your enjoyment.

Cholesterol has got a bad rap for a while now but it’s not really his fault, like all good guys gone bad, it’s the dudes he hangs out with that are getting him into trouble.

The Other Guys

Let me introduce you to LDL. He’s a transporter, driving cholesterol around the body getting him into all sorts of trouble. Like everything in life nothing is cut and dried, LDL has a good heart and ultimately his intentions are good. He does want to help and does this by bringing Cholesterol to all the tissues in the body that need him to keep their thing going good. But he gets a bit wild sometimes and goes crazy, dropping our guy Cholesterol off all over the place, Cholesterol gets caught up in the chaos and together they start to cause the mayhem that we see as atherosclerosis.

Then we’ve got Triglyceride, he is part of the fat posse and well he’s kinda simple. He often just cruises in the blood with his transporter buddies and considers himself the storehouse, hoarding up the fat energy for when we might need it later. He’s just waiting patiently for his moment and then he really comes into his own. Triglyceride causes similar problems as LDL, together they rebel, party too much and get raucous, the neighbors call the cops with noise complaints and it gets messy.

The Girl

Lucky for Cholesterol he’s got a girl, and she keeps him in line most of the time. Her name is HDL and she’s smart and kind and she loves Cholesterol for what he truly is, an integral part of the body that we couldn’t live without. HDL has a sweet ride and she often picks Cholesterol up after he’s been hitting the sauce with his buddies. She drives him back to his Ma’s house at The Liver and together they sort him out. Sometimes he just rests and recoups at home, but most of the time he just has to get out. HDL and The Liver hook him up with the Bile Brothers and they sneak him out of the body via the back door.

So there you have it, part of Cholesterol’s story, it’s long and takes many twists and turns and like any complicated guy, mysterious and intriguing but ultimatly confusing.

Want to know more? Got questions? Please do ask.

Watch this space for the next instalment where we’ll look at how to interpret your test results and what all those numbers mean for you and your body.


  1. Cholesterol definitely has an image problem. It's interesting to learn that he's not all bad :-)

  2. GREAT explanation of a complicated concept!!

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