It’s a soft, waxy fat substance that your body creates. You might be surprised to find out that cholesterol is an essential part of every cell in your body, from your skin to your brain. It also helps manufacture vitamin D and important hormones. The problems start when your body starts making too much of the stuff — typically from a combination of the foods you eat and your genes. Elevated amounts in your blood can create plaque in your arteries. These plaques can rupture and cause an acute heart attack.