Nearly 36 million American adults have high cholesterol. Most may not suffer any symptoms, but it’s important to understand the 3 main parts of cholesterol and the healthy levels for each.
- High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is known as “good” cholesterol. They get their good name because they are thought to carry cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver, where the body can eliminate it.1 So it’s better for your HDL to be higher.
- Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is known as “bad” cholesterol. You don’t want too many low-density lipoproteins or LDL to build up in your arteries. Together with other substances, LDL forms plaque, which can restrict blood flow to your heart or brain.1 That’s why you want your LDL to be lower.
- Triglycerides (trigs) are a type of fat in the blood. They’re produced in the liver and also come from foods that you eat. High levels of trigs can contribute to the hardening and narrowing of arteries, making it harder for blood to flow.2 That’s one reason why you want your trigs to be lower. Also, a high triglyceride level often goes hand in hand with a high LDL level and lower HDL level.1
There’s more to managing cholesterol than lowering bad cholesterol (LDL). It’s also important to raise good cholesterol (HDL) and lower fatty triglycerides. Be sure to ask your doctor about all of your cholesterol numbers.
- American Heart Association. LDL and HDL Cholesterol. What’s Bad and What’s Good? Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=180. Last update July 02, 2009. Accessed August 25, 2009.
- Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Triglycerides. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/triglycerides.html. Last update April 12, 2010. Accessed April 13,2010.