Cholesterol, from the Greek chole- (bile) and stereos (solid) followed by the chemical suffix -ol for an alcohol, is an organic chemical substance classified as a waxy steroid of fat. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes and is required to establish proper membrane permeability and fluidity. In addition, cholesterol is an important component for the manufacture of bile acids, steroid hormones, and vitamin D. Cholesterol is the principal sterol synthesized by animals; in vertebrates it is formed predominantly in the liver. Small quantities are synthesized in other eukaryotes such as plants and fungi. It is almost completely absent among prokaryotes, i.e. bacteria.
Although cholesterol is important and necessary for human health, high levels of cholesterol in the blood have been linked to damage to arteries and cardiovascular disease.
François Poulletier de la Salle first identified cholesterol in solid form in gallstones, in 1769. However, it was only in 1815 that chemist Eugène Chevreul named the compound "cholesterine".Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults
Third Report of the Expert Panel
on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III) Fats and Oils in Human Nutrition
Aspects of fat digestion and metabolism
Digestion, absorption and transport
Metabolism of fatty acids
Essential fatty acids
Oxidation of fatty acidsAmerican Heart AssociationWikipedia
Wikipedia's article on cholesterol.