Cholesterol is a type of fat (lipid) in your blood. Your cells need cholesterol, and your body makes all it needs. But you also get cholesterol from the food you eat. If you have too much cholesterol, it starts to build up in your arteries. This is called hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. It is usually a slow process that gets worse as you get older.
Your cholesterol is measured by a blood test:
- High cholesterol is 240 or above.
- Borderline-high is 200 to 239.
- Best is less than 200.
Many things can cause high cholesterol, including:
- The foods you eat. Eating too much saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol can raise your cholesterol.
- Being overweight and being inactive.
- Age. Cholesterol starts to rise after age 20.