A person with high cholesterol has excessive fats (lipids) in the blood. Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance present in all parts of the body including the nervous system, skin, muscle, liver, intestines, and heart. It is both made by the body and obtained from animal products in the diet.

Cholesterol is manufactured in the liver for normal body functions including the production of hormones, bile acid, and Vitamin D. It is transported in the blood to be used by all parts of the body.

Dietary cholesterol is present only in foods of animal origin (not in foods of plant origin) like eggs, dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish. Egg yolks and organ meats (liver, kidney, sweetbread, and brain) are high in dietary cholesterol. Fish generally contains less cholesterol than other meats, but some shellfish is high in cholesterol.

Foods of plant origin (vegetables, fruits, grains, cereals, nuts, and seeds) contain no cholesterol. Fat content is not a good measurement of cholesterol content. For example, liver and other organ meats are low in fat but very high in cholesterol.

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