Cholesterol is a naturally-occurring steroid found in animal tissues. It's important for healthy cell membranes and other functions, but its waxy makeup makes it a danger as a high concentration could build up and block arteries.

Cholesterol is a product of the liver, excreted through bile into the digestive tract. The first notice of cholesterol was in 1769, when a French researcher found it in gallstones. Then, in the early 19th Century the chemical was named "cholestrine," from the Greek words for bile (chole) and solids (stereos), plus the chemical suffix -ol. Scientists have noted the role of cholesterol in heart attacks and other health problems, a situation that can be regulated through diet or medications.

Definitions of cholesterol

n an animal sterol that is normally synthesized by the liver; the most abundant steroid in animal tissues

HDL cholesterol
the cholesterol in high-density lipoproteins; the `good' cholesterol; a high level in the blood is thought to lower the risk of coronary artery disease
LDL cholesterol
the cholesterol in low-density lipoproteins; the `bad' cholesterol; a high level in the blood is thought to be related to various pathogenic conditions
oxidized LDL cholesterol
LDL cholesterol that has been bombarded by free radicals; it is thought to cause atherosclerosis
Type of:
steroid alcohol, sterol
any of a group of natural steroid alcohols derived from plants or animals; they are waxy insoluble substances

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