Good Vs Bad Cholesterol: Differences And Other Important Information

Good Vs Bad Cholesterol

Good vs bad cholesterol – in this article, we’ll discuss the differences between both of these. Along with that, we also cover their types, risks, and appropriate levels in the body.

Overview

Cholesterol has a bad reputation for being the fast route to ill-health and potential heart diseases. However, it is not always a killer. Cholesterol is, in fact, essential for the body and its functioning. The human body uses cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and to support digestion. 

The liver produces enough cholesterol to cater to these tasks, but your body does not just get cholesterol from the liver. Cholesterol is found in daily consumed foods like butter, cream, red meat, and poultry. Eating these without moderation can cause cholesterol levels in the body to be unhealthily high. 

While cholesterol remains important in building the structure of cell membranes, production of hormones, and helping in the overall metabolism of the body, excess of it is considered harmful. Generalizing cholesterol as ‘bad’ cholesterol is a common mistake. But there’s a major distinction between bad and good cholesterol.

Types Of Cholesterol 

Lipoproteins consist of fats and proteins. Cholesterol travels around the body in the bloodstream with lipoproteins. 

There are two main types of cholesterols:

  1. High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL): Also known as ‘good’ cholesterol, HDL transports cholesterol to the liver to be removed from the body. It helps us get rid of the excess and unwanted cholesterol in the body. Thus, making it less likely for it to end up blocking the arteries.
  2. Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL): Also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol, LDL takes cholesterol to the arteries, where it accumulates in the artery walls. This causes major health problems and heart diseases. 

Triglycerides are the third component of cholesterol and are basically stored forms of fat. Consuming more calories than one needs can cause triglycerides to build up in the bloodstream. This increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Like cholesterol, some amount of triglycerides are required to keep the body healthy but excessive amounts can be threatening. 

Good Vs Bad Cholesterol

1. Why HDL Is Good And LDL The Bad Cholesterol? 

Total cholesterol is the total of fats in one’s bloodstream. This contains both good and bad cholesterol. Total cholesterol levels cannot determine the risk of a person suffering from a cardiovascular, coronary artery, or vascular disease.  

However, the individual levels of both cholesterol can easily determine that. Higher the LDL levels, the higher is the risk for heart-related diseases. On the other hand, high amounts of good cholesterol have a shielding effect on blood vessels and can prevent cardiovascular diseases.

2. Reason Behind Their Increase

A high-fat diet, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, alcoholism, smoking, and even genetics can be the cause of high LDL levels in the bloodstream. If a person is careless about his diet and pays no attention to staying fit, then it is highly likely for him to face a number of artery and heart diseases in the future. A slow build-up of LDL in the arteries can be detrimental over a long period of time. 

Eating a low-carb or Ketogenic diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and drinking alcohol in copious amounts can greatly influence the HDL levels in the body. Lifestyle and dietary reforms can be life-changing and can even prolong one’s life. 

To improve heart health and for the overall maintenance of the body, it is crucial to make dietary changes. Always reading food labels and knowing the daily consumption of calories is beneficial in maintaining a proper diet. Adding foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, and unsaturated fats into one’s daily diet will undoubtedly help in increasing HDL levels.

3. Risk Analysis 

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that builds in the arteries. But too much bad cholesterol can lead to a plaque build-up known as atherosclerosis. This increases the risk of blood clots in the arteries. A blood clot may break and block an artery, causing a stroke or a heart attack which is potentially life-threatening. 

This build-up may also reduce blood flow and oxygen to major organs. Oxygen deprivation to your organs or arteries may lead to kidney disease or peripheral arterial disease, in addition to a heart attack or stroke. 

4. Benefits of High Levels of Good Cholesterol 

HDL cholesterol finds and gets rid of LDL, keeping it from accumulating on the linings of the arteries. It reduces the amount of LDL and helps to recycle it by transporting it to the liver where it can be reprocessed.

Good cholesterol acts as a concierge for the walls of blood vessels. It keeps the walls clean and prevents heart attacks and strokes.

5. Appropriate Levels of Cholesterol 

A cholesterol test or a lipid panel/profile determines the levels of the two cholesterols in the body of an individual. All adults should check cholesterol levels every 4-6 years because the slow build-up of LDL is unnoticeable until the problem becomes too grave.

  • High-density Lipoprotein levels higher than 60 mg/dL are high and good enough for the maintenance of the body and keeping the arteries clean.
  • High-density Lipoprotein levels lower than 40 mg/dL are low and might cause unhealthy build-up in the arteries. 
  • Low-density Lipoprotein levels should be less than 100 mg/dL in general. They should be less than 70 mg/dL if the person is suffering from coronary artery disease. 
  • Low-density Lipoprotein levels higher than 120 mg/dL can be fatal and easily cause strokes. 

Good Vs Bad Cholesterol: Conclusion 

Maintaining healthy levels of good and bad cholesterol is manageable. It is vital to make certain lifestyle and dietary changes along with getting good exercise and taking medication, if necessary. Cholesterol can cause serious health problems if not paid attention to. It is important to take regular tests to monitor good and bad cholesterol levels and do the needful to prevent heart diseases. 

These steps can greatly diminish the risk of a person suffering or dying due to heart disease or a heart attack. If the condition becomes too perilous, it is never too late to consider taking cholesterol-lowering medication (like statin) while maintaining a healthy life. Controlling elevated cholesterol levels is a primary public health concern and the issue must not be treated carelessly.