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Terms to know

August 11, 2002

Terms to know

  • Cholesterol - A soft, waxy substance used to form cell membranes and some hormones. Too much cholesterol in the system, however, is a risk factor for heart disease. Cholesterol is made naturally in the body by the liver and also added by the diet.

  • Lipoprotein - Coated in protein, these molecules transport cholesterol through the bloodstream and are characterized by their density.

  • LDL - Low-density lipoprotein, a.k.a. bad cholesterol, carries the majority of cholesterol through the blood, some of which is deposited in arteries and serves as a cornerstone of potentially harmful plaques.

  • HDL - High-density lipoprotein, a.k.a. good cholesterol, accounts for between one-third and one-fourth of cholesterol in the bloodstream. In part, HDL clears excess cholesterol from plaques in arteries.

  • VLDL - Very low-density lipoproteins originate in the liver, carrying cholesterol and triglycerides to the body. When triglycerides are deposited, VLDL becomes LDL.

  • Triglycerides - Most of the body's fat is stored as triglycerides, to be converted to energy as needed.
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