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What is Cholesterol? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lindsy Frazer

Dr. Frazer has taught several college level Science courses and has a master's degree in Human Biology and a PhD in Library and Information Science.

Did you know that just like the drain in your bathtub, your blood vessels can get clogged? In this lesson you'll learn what cholesterol is, the different types, and how it can cause clogs.

What is Cholesterol?

Have you ever heard people mention high cholesterol? Or have you heard foods described as being low in cholesterol?

What exactly is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of fat that travels through the blood. Our livers make cholesterol and it is also found in many of the foods we eat like eggs, meat, cheese, butter and whole milk.

Cholesterol is made by the liver and comes from some of the foods we eat.
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Just a Little

If your body makes cholesterol then why all this fuss about low cholesterol foods? Your liver makes cholesterol because many of your organs and other body parts need some cholesterol to grow and function. But having too much cholesterol in your body can lead to problems. Cholesterol causes clogs! Try saying that ten times fast.

Cholesterol Clogs

Cholesterol floating around in the blood can stick to the walls of blood vessels, the passageways that carry the blood throughout our bodies.

Blood vessels are like tunnels for transporting blood, and if cholesterol builds up on the sides of these tunnels, blood has a hard time passing through. Imagine a group of people walking through a door. If the door is wide open the people will have no problem passing through. If the door is only open a crack, there will be a traffic jam as people try to push through. Cholesterol causes a traffic jam in our blood vessels, preventing blood from getting to all of our body parts.

Too much cholesterol can cause clogs that prevent blood from reaching all of our body parts.
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Types of Cholesterol

Not all cholesterol is the same. Some cholesterol clogs blood vessels and some helps keep vessels clean. There are two types of cholesterol: LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.

Lousy LDL Cholesterol

LDL is cholesterol that is traveling from the liver into the bloodstream to move throughout the body. This is easy to remember because LDL is leaving the liver and leaving, liver, and LDL start with an 'l'.

Because it is moving cholesterol into the bloodstream, LDL cholesterol is more likely to clog blood vessels. So, you could say LDL is lousy, or bad, at keeping blood vessels clog free. Both LDL and lousy start with an 'l', so it will be easy to remember that LDL is bad cholesterol.

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