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Understanding the Difference Between LDL and HDL

Understanding the Difference Between LDL and HDL

Improving and maintaining your overall health is as much a question of balance and moderation as it is of proper diet and keeping physically fit. Maintaining the right balance helps prevent disease, extends your lifespan, and can even be good for the environment. 

Too much of many foods can endanger that balance as with too much sugar, for example. Too much sugar can lead to tooth decay, hyperglycemia, diabetes, and other problems, but your body does need sugar to fuel its cells. 

High cholesterol is another problem of extremes, as there are levels of cholesterol that are good for your health and specific types you should try to eat more of. If you live in the Beverly Hills, California, area, and you’re struggling with your cholesterol levels, Dr. Shawn Veiseh and his experienced team can help you keep it under control.

To understand the importance of cholesterol to your overall health, let’s explore what it is, the different types of cholesterol, and what changes you can make to maintain healthy levels.

Understanding cholesterol

Cholesterol is a naturally occurring substance in your body. It also comes from various foods you eat that help your body produce hormones, vitamin D, digestion enzymes, and materials that aid in the healthy function of your cells. 

Cholesterol is both a lipid (a fat-like molecule circulating in your bloodstream) and a protein, hence the combined term for several types of cholesterol — lipoprotein.

Foods like eggs, full-fat dairy, bacon, and red meat have cholesterol, and in moderation, these foods can be just fine. Hyperlipidemia and dyslipidemia are terms for high levels of lipids which can lead to heart disease as well as high cholesterol.

Differences between the types of cholesterol

Low-density and high-density lipoproteins (LDL and HDL, respectively) carry cholesterol to and from your cells. The amount of each in your body determines whether or not your levels are healthy. 

LDL is considered bad cholesterol, as too much of it leads to a buildup of fatty tissue in your bloodstream, resulting in blockages in your arteries (atherosclerosis) and an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.

HDL is beneficial because proper amounts actually carry LDL cholesterol out of your bloodstream to your liver, where it’s broken down and removed from your body. HDL doesn’t remove all LDL, but focusing on a diet with HDL cholesterol can keep LDL levels from becoming a problem. 

The most common fat in your body is triglycerides, and they can work with LDL cholesterol to endanger your health through a bad diet and lack of exercise.

Lifestyle changes for healthier cholesterol

While there are medical treatments to help with cholesterol levels, many lifestyle changes can also reduce the amount of LDL in your system.

Dietary changes

A diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can reduce the amount of LDL in your bloodstream, as can the monounsaturated fats that olive and canola oils can provide. Oily fish, nuts, and avocados also provide healthy fats.

Physical changes

To reduce bad cholesterol, a combination of routine exercise (at least 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week) and losing weight can lower your LDL levels to improve your cholesterol.

If you smoke, you’ll need to stop to help lower your bad cholesterol and benefit your health in many other ways. Cholesterol can be bad for you, but not all types are harmful. 

To get your levels checked and find out what you can do to get healthy, make an appointment with Dr. Veiseh and our team today. Call our office or schedule a visit online.

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