What are HDL and LDL Cholesterol?
Animal fat is mostly made up of triglycerides but is a complex mixture of substances which includes cholesterol.
HDL and LDL
Many people are familiar with HDL (“good cholesterol”) and LDL (“bad cholesterol”). What many people do not realize is that HDL and LDL are not actually cholesterol. They are the lipoproteins that transport cholesterol.
HDL is short for high-density lipoprotein, and LDL is short for low-density lipoprotein. VLDL and IDL are not spoken of as often and are short for very low density lipoprotein, and intermediate-density lipoprotein respectively.
For the purposes of this article we will focus on HDL and LDL. A simple way to look at the difference between these two is that LDL is carrying the cholesterol in the bloodstream throughout the body while HDL is moving cholesterol from the blood back to the liver where it can be processed for other important functions or elimated from the body.
I’m actually quite concerned that so many people are being put on statin drugs to lower cholesterol when it plays such a very important role.
I don’t know about you, but I personally like my steroid hormones and you won’t find me taking a cholesterol lowering drug unless by force. I have complete control over what I choose to eat, and by improving my lifestyle I can help reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease without needing medication.
The ratio of LDL to HDL is more important to your health than the total cholesterol value because this indicates what the cholesterol is actually doing in the body. In general you want to eat in a way that increases HDL and decreases LDL.
Suggestions for Improving Your Cardiovascular Health
- Lose weight if you are overweight
- Eat plenty of fiber from vegetables, whole grains, or other sources
- Stop smoking
- Include raw nuts and pumpkin seeds in your diet
- Eat more fish and lean meats
- Eat plenty of dark green leafy vegetables
- Use oils like olive, grapeseed, flaxseed, or peanut
- Avoid highly processed pastries, packaged greasy snacks, and fried fast-food.
Yours in Health and Wellness,
Dr. Kevin McDougal, D.C.
Mensink RP, Katan MB. (1990). “Effect of Dietary trans Fatty Acids on High-Density and Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels in Healthy Subjects”. N Engl J Med [On-Line]. Viewed 11-22-10, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199008163230703