What is the difference between good cholesterol and bad cholesterol?

The discussion on Good Cholesterol vs. Bad Cholesterol is important. It is good to be aware of what you eat and what lifestyle you lead. Your small decisions can have a big impact on your health and fitness.

What is cholesterol?

The general perception of cholesterol is to have that right level which does not cause problems with heart health. There are three types of cholesterol, namely – HDL (good cholesterol), LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides. HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein and LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are essentially composed of fats and proteins. Triglycerides are excess fat that comes from sugar, alcohol, and other excess fatty foods that get stored as fat in the body.

Does your body need cholesterol?

Yes it does; to produce the necessary hormones and vitamin D in order to support your digestive system. Ideally, there is HDL and LDL in our body because it is produced by our liver, but is not necessarily enough to be absorbed by our body. In that case, basic foods like meat, dairy, and poultry will give you the added cholesterol you need. However, excessive consumption of red meat or other high protein foods is not desirable. Less than 200 mg/dL is the normal cholesterol (total) level for adults.

What is good/ HDL cholesterol?

As we know that good or HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol allows some of the cholesterol to be eliminated from the body through the liver. This is because excess cholesterol is undesirable for good heart health. The remaining excess of lipoproteins (cholesterol that moves in it) easily reach the arteries of the heart and can cause blockages. So, HDL removes these excess lipoproteins from the body, so the chances of it to reach the arteries are reduced.

What is bad/ LDL cholesterol? 

Bad or LDL (Low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol carries cholesterol to the artery walls. This increases the risk of heart blockage or can continuously deposit in the arterial walls and turn into plaque. The reason why this increases the risk is that LDLs can cause blood clots and if the clot breaks off and causes a blockage, you can suffer from a heart attack or stroke.

What is the difference between LDL and HDL?

An overview of LDL Vs HDL is essential. Here are some facts to consider when understanding them.

  • HDL cleans it up or removes scavenging LDLs.
  •  HDL reduces and exports bad LDL to the liver to eventually be eliminated or reprocessed in the body.
  •  While LDLs cause plaque on the artery walls, leading to atherosclerosis, HDLs do just the opposite. They “clean” the endothelium (inner wall) of the blood vessels, reducing their chances of clotting and eventually blocking the artery.   
  • LDLs, which cause atherosclerosis, can cause heart attacks and strokes which HDLs prevent.
  •  Lowering LDLs can happen by generating more HDLs; you can cut down on simple carbohydrates or exercise. It is best not to smoke or drink alcohol if you have conditions such as diabetes or other cardiovascular diseases. Doctors can measure your cholesterol levels and tell you what is best for your age.

How to control bad cholesterol?

It is the LDL that increases the heart risk in your body. To reduce it, a person needs to limit such foods and lower their low-density lipoprotein levels.

A healthy and balanced diet: 

The answer to a healthy life is essentially healthy eating. This doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out all fats and carbohydrates, but being smart about avoiding unhealthy foods. Adding foods such as nuts, oats, beans etc. to your diet can make LDL less likely to circulate in your bloodstream. You can also avoid sugary cookies or fatty flour foods and heavy sauces that add no nutritional value. Plant sterols (substance found in the highest amounts in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds) might help reduce cholesterol levels by restricting its amount entering the body.

Physical exercise:

Cholesterol & heart diseases are linked closely. It’s no secret that the heart pumps in oxygen during exercise, thereby contributing to a stable supply of oxygen to the body. This will eliminate LDL as the heart will regulate more oxygen. This will ultimately keep your heart healthy.

Try cholesterol lowering supplements:

Along with diet, some supplements such as niacin, psyllium husk and L-carnitine can help to lower cholesterol levels naturally.

Know when to consult a doctor: 

For any disease, the very first question that pops up in our mind is – When should I consult a doctor? Well, in this case, eating healthy food and exercising regularly is enough. If not, then you should consult a doctor. They could provide medication to lower LDL levels. You can take pills or injections that your doctor gives you. Do not to take any medications on your own unless advised by a doctor.  Statins (a class of drugs) are often prescribed by doctors to prevent heart attacks and stroke.

What are the worst foods for high cholesterol?

If you have high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia), it’s important for you to follow a low cholesterol diet. You can do this by avoiding foods such as red meat (beef, pork, and lamb), fried foods (like chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, and onion rings etc.), processed meats (hot dogs, sausage, and bacon) & baked goods (cookies, cakes, and pastry) in excessive amount. However, all high cholesterol foods are not bad for you. For example, eggs are high in cholesterol, but they’re also rich in protein and other nutrients.

How to Increase HDL/ good cholesterol?

The answer to that is to follow LDL-reducing goals. The ways you can increase your HDL are by exercising and keeping a healthy diet with your weight under control.

  • High HDL is a good sign because it reduces your body‘s chances of creating LDL. HDL counts higher than 60 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) means you have high HDL.
  • HDL levels below 40 mgs/dl means you have low HDL, which means it’s time to exercise and plan to add HDL-rich foods to your diet.
  • If you are interested in smoking or alcoholism, then it is best to start taking measures to quit or reduce your intake because these are the main causes of low HDL. Quitting smoking and alcohol will increase HDL.

How to measure cholesterol levels?

A simple blood test called Lipid profile test is done to measure cholesterol. The measurement is based on the levels of LDL, HDL, and triglycerides in the body. The results appear in the form of numbers just like any other blood test. This is ideal for seeing how much your heart may be at risk at a given stage of time in your life – this is mainly for consulting with your doctor.

Do check out more blogs on staying healthy and fit through our health bites section about gaining muscles, weight loss, etc on Body Fuel

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