Cholesterol is a type of fat that is found naturally in the body. It is important for the structure of our cell membranes and is essential for many metabolic processes. Our body also uses cholesterol for hormone production, and to help the body produce vitamin D.

Cholesterol is only found in animal based foods, not plant foods. It is essential in the body but when we have more than we need, it can become a problem.

Cholesterol in the body comes from two sources. The majority comes from the body's natural production of cholesterol from the liver, with about a third coming from the diet. About half of the cholesterol we eat (dietary cholesterol) is absorbed by the body1.

There are two main types of cholesterol in our blood:

  • Low density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol (the 'bad' type); and
  • High density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol (the 'good' type)

Cholesterol may become a problem when your LDL cholesterol is too high, as it carries the cholesterol that is delivered to your cells2.

Having more of the 'good' or HDL cholesterol is beneficial to heart health as it helps to remove excess cholesterol out of your cells, including the cells in your arteries2.

1Heart Foundation (2005).
2State Government of Victoria (2012) Better Health Channel 'Cholesterol'

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