Cholesterol is a waxy organic compound found in blood and in all animal tissues. It is a steroid and is essential to life. It is a primary component of cell membranes and a material from which the body makes bile acids, other steroid hormones and vitamin D. It is made in the liver and some other organs, in greater or lesser amounts depending on the amount recently consumed in the diet. It circulates in the blood in compounds called lipoproteins, since it is not water-soluble alone. Excess cholesterol in the blood forms deposits in arteries (arteriosclerosis), which can lead to coronary heart disease. Since the body makes cholesterol from fats, blood cholesterol cannot be reduced by limiting only the amount of cholesterol in the diet; the amount of fat, especially saturated fat, must also be reduced.
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