Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that produced naturally by the liver and also acquired through diet. It is found in the blood and all cells of the body. Since cholesterol is a fatty substance, it can not mix with blood and can not travel around in the bloodstream on its own. In order to travel throughout the body, cholesterol is attached to the protein. This package of cholesterol (a lipid) and protein is called Lipoprotein.
There are two common types of lipoproteins: LDL Cholesterol and HDL Cholesterol. Let’s look at the two different types of lipoproteins.
LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein)
LDL is a type of lipoprotein that carries the most cholesterol in the blood. It is called Low Density Lipoprotein density because it has less protein density and more fat. This excess fat may slowly buildup in artery walls that connect the heart and brain. Together with other substances it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog those arteries. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. Due to this, LDL cholesterol is often called “bad” cholesterol. The higher your LDL cholesterol levels, the greater your risk for heart disease.
To lower your LDL cholesterol, you should:
- Eating more cholesterol-lowering foods and avoid or limit high cholesterol foods
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
HDL (High Density Lipoprotein)
HDL is a type of cholesterol found in the blood and is commonly referred to as the “good” cholesterol. About one-third of blood cholesterol is carried by high-density lipoprotein (HDL). This type of cholesterol is known as good cholesterol because it helps remove excess cholesterol from the blood, preventing the fatty build up and formation of plaque.
In the average man, HDL cholesterol levels should between 40 to 50 mg/dL. While in the woman, they range should from 50 to 60 mg/dL. HDL cholesterol that’s less than 40 mg/dL is considered low. Low HDL cholesterol puts you at high risk for heart disease. Smoking, being overweight and being physically inactive can all result in lower HDL. If you have low HDL cholesterol, avoid those things can help raise your HDL levels.