In Cholesterol/ HDL Cholesterol/ LDL Cholesterol

LDL Vs. HDL Cholesterol

know your cholesterol numbers

LDL vs. HDL: There are two major kinds of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).  Lipoproteins are made out of proteins and fat. Lipoprotein is used by cholesterol as transport for moving through your body.

The first thing that you need to know if you would like to interpret your cholesterol number is that the numbers alone are not sufficient for predicting your risk of developing heart problems.  The numbers are in combination with whether or not you use blood pressure medication, your smoking status, blood pressure, and age.  

LDL Cholesterol

If your LDL cholesterol is 190 or above, that is considered to be very high.  LDL cholesterol may build up on your artery walls and that increases your risk of getting heart disease.  LDL cholesterol is considered to be “bad” cholesterol.  It is optimal for it to be at less than 100mg/dL.  The lower of an LDL cholesterol number that you have, the lower your risk is for heart disease.

This is why LDL cholesterol is considered to be “bad” cholesterol.  Your risk is reduced the lower your LDL cholesterol is.

LDL Cholesterol can be affected by the following important factors:

– LDL Cholesterol numbers are decreased by a healthy diet

– LDL cholesterol levels are increased by smoking

– High LDL levels increase the risk of heart disease

– The lower your cholesterol number is, the better off you are

HDL Cholesterol

HDL Cholesterol is “good” cholesterol.  Your risk is lower the higher your HDL number is.  That is due to the fact that HDL cholesterol takes the “bad” or LDL cholesterol out of your blood and prevents it from building up inside of your arteries and protects you against heart disease.  Your HDL can be slightly increased by exercise or a statin.  

HDL is considered to be “good cholesterol” due to the fact that it transports cholesterol into your liver so that is can be eliminated out your body.  HDL works to eliminate excess cholesterol from your body so it isn’t as likely to get into your arteries.  

With HDL the higher your number is the better.  The optimal level is 60mg/dl and you are considered to be high risk if it is 40 or below.

HDL Cholesterol can be affected by the following important factors:

– HDL Cholesterol levels are increased by a healthy diet  

– HDL Cholesterol is decreased by smoking

– Low HDL levels increase the risk of Heart Disease

– The higher your HDL Cholesterol number is the better

In the U.S. as well as many other countries around the world, high HDL levels is a prevalent and common problem.  Millions of Americans are suffering from it.  High LDL levels may lead to plaque accumulating in the heart’s arteries, and that can lead to various cardiovascular diseases, like stroke and cardiac arrest.  For many people, fortunately, it is easy to keep LDL levels in check without them having to resort to medication.  It is possible to lower LDL levels naturally through going on a cholesterol-reducing, healthier diet and making some changes to your lifestyle.    

What is LDL Cholesterol?

Low-Density Lipoprotein, or LDL for short, are known as being “bad” cholesterol. Cholesterol is a kind of fat molecule, such as a lipid.  They are not soluble in water, so there are only limited amounts of movement of them in the bloodstream.  That is due to the fact that cholesterol must bind and react with proteins to form a lipoprotein, to allow them to freely move around in the bloodstream as well to travel over to body cells in order to perform several bodily functions.  

HDL and LDL have different ratios of proteins that are present in each of them.  LDL contains approximately 50% cholesterol and 25% protein, whereas HDL is comprised of 20% cholesterol and 50% protein.

Although the basic function of both lipoprotein forms is basically the same, which is transporting cholesterol that is in the bloodstream over to the cells, the mode of function is very different and they transport cholesterol into different places in the body.

Cholesterol is carried from the liver over to the cells by LDL, and it is then used for the synthesis of Vitamin D, hormones and to maintain cell membrane stability.  LDL within the body is important, but it is still considered to be “bad” cholesterol.  Below we have provided a more detailed explanation of this.

“Bad” Cholesterol

As cholesterol is transported by LDL into the blood for the previously mentioned functions, it can end up accumulating on your arterial walls at times.  Usually, the process starts around the middle of childhood and continues for the rest of an individual’s life.  

Deposited LDL walls cause the natural defenses of the body to be stimulated.  Macrophages, which are white blood cells, work to consume and digest this LDL.  During the process, LDL gets oxidized and converted into a form that is toxic.

The body responds further by releasing other while cells and more macrophages to deal with toxic LDL.  The result is continuous inflammation within the arterial wall.    

The accumulation of cells and LDL end up eventually in plaque form.  Then increases inside of the arteries, and may cause obstruction of blow flow into the artery.  

In situations where the plaque layer is inside of the coronary artery and suddenly disintegrates, a blood clot may form and that can bring on a heart attack.  Other if accumulate of plaque is inside an artery that leads to the brain it might cause a stroke.   

Recommended LDL Levels

The recommended level for a child to maintain good health is 25 to 50mg/dL. That is due to the fact that plaque accumulation has not yet begun in the coronary artery.  As a person grows older, the recommended LDL level changes to under 100mg/dL.

However, for individuals who have an increased risk to develop cardiac diseases like diabetics and individuals with prevailing heart diseases already, it to recommended that an LDL level be maintained that is under 70mg/dl. An individual with an LDL level ranging from 160 to 189 and especially those who have levels higher than 190 are a great risk for developing cardiovascular diseases.      

Simply lowering your levels of cholesterol isn’t sufficient for maintaining a healthy heart and preventing conditions that are associated with hypercholesterolemia (such as heart disease and stroke).  Ensuring that your HDL levels (“good” cholesterol) remain high is equally as important.  The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that 42 million Americans (6.5% of females and 24% of males) have HDL levels under the recommended levels.  HDL levels can, fortunately, be elevated through making a few dietary and lifestyle changes.  

What is HDL Cholesterol?

High-Density Lipoprotein, or HDL for short, is considered to be “good” cholesterol. The lipoprotein structure of HDL cholesterol is formed after cholesterol within the blood binds to protein molecules that are also in the blood.  This enables cholesterol molecules to travel easily within the bloodstream.  After the lipoprotein gets to the liver, it is then eliminated by the body, and this prevents cholesterol from building up.  When a large percentage of your HDL is maintained in your total carbon this can help to protect your heart and safeguard it against cardiovascular diseases as well.  

Recommended HDL Levels   

 The American Heart Association (AHA) has issued guidelines that recommend HDL levels for women to ideally be at 50mg/dL and adult males to be at 40mg/dL.  When HDL is lower than those levels it may pose the risk of heart disease and levels greater than those will significantly reduce the chance of heart disease such as heart attacks.  

What Causes Low Levels of HDL

– Genetics

Genetics can cause low HDL levels.  A published study showed that nearly 20% of individuals with a low HDL count possessed genetic mutation symptoms as well.  For individuals with this condition, they are advised to incorporate diet and lifestyle changes to promote increased HDL levels, since low HDL levels may result in cardiovascular disease or other serious health conditions.   

– Inadequate diet, lifestyle, and medication

Other things that can cause low HDL levels, besides genetics, include using a medication that affects your HDL level negatively, having an inactive lifestyle, and eating an unhealthy diet.

Diet issues include eating a diet that is rich in fat, not consuming sufficient amounts of Omega-3 or Resveratrol-rich foods, etc.  Lifestyle issues may also include smoking and not exercising enough on a daily basis.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has provided statistics that show that smoking can be linked directly to decreased HDL levels.  Also, consuming certain drugs, such as anabolic steroids, beta blockers, zinc supplements or prescription testosterone, may dramatically lower your HDL levels.

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