LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol is a type of lipoprotein that carries most of the cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is naturally produced by the body. Our body needs it to build cell walls, make hormones, vitamin D, and create bile salts to digest other fats. About 80 percent of the body’s cholesterol is produced by the liver, and the rest 20 percent comes from the foods we eat. Foods that contain cholesterol include meat, fish, eggs, poultry, and dairy products.
Since cholesterol is a fatty substance (lipid), it can not dissolve in the blood (water) and must be carried by protein to reach all parts of the body. The combination of cholesterol and protein is called lipoprotein.
If too much cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the walls of arteries that connect the heart and brain. Along with other substances, it can form plaque that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, then heart attack or stroke can result. That’s why LDL cholesterol is called “bad” cholesterol.
The only way to know whether you have high blood cholesterol or not is to have it measured. Normally, LDL cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL). An optimal LDL cholesterol levels are less than 100 mg/dL. Levels between 100 and 129 are considered “near optimal”, and levels between 130 and 159 are considered “borderline”.
If your LDL levels are above 160 mg/dL, then it is considered high and it should be treated immediately by lowering the LDL cholesterol levels. Regular exercises, losing excess weight, and maintain a healthy diet are the best ways to lower LDL cholesterol.