What's The Difference Between Triglycerides And Cholesterol?

Fats are essential for the body because they perform several critical functions that contribute to overall health and well-being. Fats are also known as lipids, which are a broad class of organic compounds, including oils and waxes. Lipids are made up of hydrocarbon atoms and are insoluble in water (via News Medical). Lipids are essential to many biological processes and are a major source of energy, absorbing vitamins and nutrients and regulating hormones.

Lipids are also key components of cell membranes, controlling the flow of materials in and out of the cell. There are several types of lipids, each with different functions and structures. Triglycerides and cholesterol are two types of lipids, or fats, found in the blood, according to Maricopa Community Colleges. They play important roles in the body but have different functions and structures. However, not all fats are created equal — and some types are healthier than others.

What's the difference between triglycerides and cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is produced by the liver and is also found in some foods. It is necessary for forming cell membranes and producing hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids, per Johns Hopkins Medicine. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is often referred to as "good cholesterol" because it helps to remove high-density lipoprotein (LDL) from the bloodstream. At the same time, LDL is often called "bad" cholesterol because it can build up in the arteries, leading to the formation of plaques that can restrict blood flow, explains Johns Hopkins.

On the other hand, triglycerides are a type of fat that the body uses for energy. They are produced in the liver from excess calories that are not immediately needed for energy and are stored in fat cells (via News Medical). When the body needs energy, hormones signal the release of triglycerides from the fat cells, which are broken down into fatty acids and used as fuel, explains the source.

How do high triglycerides and cholesterol levels affect the body?

While both triglycerides and cholesterol can contribute to the development of heart disease, they have different roles in the body and are affected by different lifestyle and dietary factors. High cholesterol levels in the blood are often associated with a diet high in saturated and trans fats and a lack of physical activity, per Mayo Clinic.

Triglyceride levels, on the other hand, are often elevated by a diet high in simple carbohydrates (such as sugars and refined grains) and excessive alcohol consumption, says Medical News Today. High levels of triglycerides in the blood have also been associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

To maintain good health, it is important to monitor both cholesterol and triglyceride levels and take steps to reduce any risk factors, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking (CDC).