Liver Function and Cholesterol Levels: The Critical Connection

Blog Health Liver Function and Cholesterol Levels: The Critical Connection

cover image
8.29.2023 0 comments

The human liver is one of the most important organs in the body.

Oh, sure, the brain and heart get most of the focus due to the fact that they’re necessary for keeping you alive, and the stomach certainly is the most prominent because of how important it is for digestion.

But without a healthy liver, your body would begin to experience a lot of very serious problems very quickly, leading to deterioration and the ultimate shutdown of most of your other organs.

In this post, we’re going to look at the role your liver plays in keeping your body working smoothly. Specifically, how it manages your cholesterol levels and prevents cardiovascular disease.

By the end of this page, you’ll come to understand just how important it is for you to ensure healthy, efficient liver function and take steps to protect your liver at all costs.

Liver Function and Cholesterol Levels: The Critical Connection

A Quick Primer on Cholesterol

Before we dive in, it’s important to understand exactly what cholesterol is and the role it serves in the body.

There are two forms of cholesterol:

  • High-density lipoproteins (HDL), which is responsible for transporting cholesterol from your body’s cells to your liver, where it’s broken down and eliminated from your body.

  • Low-density lipoproteins (LDL), which transports cholesterol from your liver to your body’s cells, where it’s used as energy.

Both forms of cholesterol are “necessary” for healthy function. It’s only when LDL cholesterol is produced in excess levels that it becomes a problem.

You see, too much LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream can accumulate in your arteries, leading to the formation of plaque, arterial narrowing, and, ultimately, cardiovascular disease.

And, as you’ll discover below, a dysfunctional liver is more likely to produce that “too much” LDL cholesterol that’s likely to cause the problems.

Your Liver and Cholesterol Levels

The liver is responsible for a number of functions in your body, including:

  • Supporting your metabolism

  • Maintaining your immunity to disease

  • Aiding in digestion

  • Storing vitamins

  • Detoxifying chemicals and toxins from your body

Cholesterol is produced to aid in many of these functions. Cholesterol is critical for the enzymes your body needs to digest the food you eat, as well as producing Vitamin D from sunlight exposure (and the food you eat) and creating hormones. It’s also needed by your body’s cells to produce the membranes that protect them from damage.

At “normal” levels, cholesterol is critical for your body function. However, when your liver maintains its “normal” production of cholesterol but can’t clear away the excess, that’s when it starts to build up and become problematic.

What Stops Your Liver from Clearing Cholesterol?

There are a number of problems that could impair liver function and make it less effective at clearing cholesterol from your body:

  • Drug-induced damage. This could be caused by recreational drug use, over-the-counter medications (including acetaminophen), or prescription medications for conditions like chronic hepatitis, acute hepatitis, and other liver diseases. Typically, the reduced liver function will only persist for as long as you take the drug. However, in some very rare cases, prolonged or excessive drug use can cause severe and/or permanent damage to your liver.

  • Cirrhosis. Liver cirrhosis is an accumulation of scarring typically caused by diseases like hepatitis C. The inflammation that often accompanies the scarring will reduce liver function and prevent it from effectively carrying out its basic functions, including eliminating excess cholesterol.

  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is said to affect around 25% of American adults [1], particularly diabetics or those who are overweight or obese. It’s typically accompanied by high levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream, and even irregular distribution of fats in the body.

  • Fatty liver disease. Also called Hepatic Steatosis, fatty liver disease is common among alcoholics and those who drink heavily to an excess for long periods. The high alcohol intake leads to a build-up of fat inside the cells of your liver, preventing them from functioning properly. Decreased liver cell function can make it harder for your liver to clear away cholesterol.

What Happens When Low Liver Function Leads to High Cholesterol Levels?

When your liver is unable to clear away cholesterol, the high levels of cholesterol present in your bloodstream can cause all sorts of problems.

Typically, cholesterol will accumulate inside your heart or along the walls of your arteries. When it oxidizes, it turns to hardened plaque. This plaque is inflexible and is prone to “crack”, which can damage the heart or arterial tissue, leading to blood clots. These blood clots can stop up the flow of blood, which can result in heart attack, stroke, or peripheral arterial disease (if the clot stops blood from flowing to your limbs).

How to Restore Liver Function and Lower Cholesterol Levels

The good news is that your liver is one of the most powerful organs in your body and has the capability to repair and regenerate. It’s likely to recover even from serious damage, but only if you take the proper steps to detoxify it and clear away the fats, inflammation, and scarring that could be impairing liver function.

According to the Mayo Clinic [2], there are some simple lifestyle modifications and at-home remedies you can try for amazing results:

  • Limit or eliminate alcohol intake. Alcohol damages your liver and impairs its function. Even just one drink can have serious negative impact if your liver is already damaged. Try and cut alcohol from your life completely, at least for a few months. If you do drink, make sure to drink sparingly—no more than 1 drink per day.

  • Exercise daily. Exercise helps to restore liver function and burns up the lipids in your body’s cells, making way for them to use the cholesterol floating in your bloodstream. Doing just 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day can lead to serious improvements in your weight, liver function, and overall health.

  • Try cutting calories. Cut back on your food intake by 500 to 1,000 calories per day in order to lose weight. Reducing calorie intake can aid in weight loss, and also pushes your body to burn more of the fats floating around in your body (including cholesterol).

  • Eat right. Avoid foods that are high in trans fats, processed carbohydrates, anything with high-fructose corn syrup, and fatty animal products. Experts [3] recommend that you instead eat “hepatoprotective” foods that increase liver function, such as coffee, green tea, oatmeal, grapes, berries, garlic, grapefruit, dark and leafy greens, bananas, prickly pear, nuts, olive oil, and whole grains.

A few simple steps, but they can make a huge difference!


Your liver is essential for healthy body function, protecting against the buildup of both excessive toxins and fats. If its ability to protect you is compromised, your body will begin to show the signs of strain—in the form of high cholesterol levels, liver inflammation, and even weight gain.

It’s absolutely in your best interest to take proactive steps to protect your liver function and keep your cholesterol levels in check. Thanks to the information above, you’ll know everything you need to in order to get started working on improving your liver health today.






We created ZONIA because we believe that everyone deserves to be empowered with the education and tools to be healthy and happy. Zonia's original videos and personalized transformation programs by our health & wellness experts will help you achieve this mission. Click on the button below to get started today: