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: a substance that is found in the bodies of people and animals
Full Definition of CHOLESTEROL
: a steroid alcohol C27H45OH that is present in animal cells and body fluids, regulates membrane fluidity, and functions as a precursor molecule in various metabolic pathways and as a constituent of LDL may cause atherosclerosis — compare bad cholesterol, good cholesterol
: a steroid alcohol C27H45OH present in animal cells and body fluids that regulates membrane fluidity, functions as a precursor molecule in various metabolic pathways, and as a constituent of LDL may cause arteriosclerosis
Illustration of CHOLESTEROL
Waxy organic compound found in blood and all animal tissues. It is a steroid, with molecular formula CHO, containing four rings in its structure. Cholesterol is essential to life; it is a primary component of cellmembranes and a starting or intermediate 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 (seearteriosclerosis), which can lead to coronary heart disease. Michael Brown (born 1941) and Joseph Goldstein (born 1940) won a Nobel Prize in 1985 for their work in discovering this process. 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 (seesaturation, fatty acid) must also be reduced. See alsotriglyceride.