HDL and LDL cholesterol have become terms that we all know, even if we are not medical. This is because of the importance they have for our health.
Talking about HDL and LDL cholesterol is common for heart sufferers. Those who have had a heart attack know that it must raise some blood values and decrease the others to protect their heart.
However, it is not only cardiological patients who are familiar with the terms. Global prevention campaigns have paid off and more and more people understand how cholesterol works and what effect it has on the arteries.
Both HDL and LDL cholesterol are parts, or portions, of the total cholesterol in the body. In itself, they are fatty substances that cells require for metabolism. It’s not something we shouldn’t have, but we need to control.
Based on what we can measure in a blood test, cholesterol is divided into:
HDL: is the fat that cleans the arteries, without obstructing them. It’s what’s called ‘good’ cholesterol.
LDL: this is the variety that is deposited in the arterial walls, generating danger. It’s what’s called ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Triglycerides: This is a particular fat from cells and blood that varies greatly with a person’s diet.
What we call total cholesterol is the sum in amount of HDL and LDL cholesterol.
What is HDL Cholesterol?
HDL and LDL cholesterol are not the same, as we have already advanced. The so-called ‘good’ cholesterol or High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is one that carries portions of fat from different parts of the body to the liver, as if it cleans the arteries.
In medicine, this value is attempted to rise, because a higher proportion of HDL ensures better cardiovascular work. Contrary to what is often thought, this is the case of a cholesterol that we must increase.
Unfortunately, the use of certain medicines due to chronic pathologies favors the decrease of this substance; it is almost inevitable for those who take beta blockers, for example. It is also affected by benzodiazepines and progestogens, among others.
HDL and LDL cholesterol are addressed with similar measures as, in general, what increases ‘good’ cholesterol usually lowers the ‘bad’. However, tobacco is known to affect HDL more than LDL.
What is LDL cholesterol?
LDL stands for Low Density Lipoprotein,commonly known as ‘bad’ cholesterol. It is associated with damage because it tends to deposit itself in the inner walls of the arteries and clogs blood flow.
Arteriosclerosis has an ally in this cholesterol. The athema plates have in their fat form that is carried there by this lipoprotein. Cardiologists insist on lowering their biochemical values to prevent heart attacks and angina.
In short, a higher LDL cholesterol value will be linked to lower oxygen flow to vital organs. When the ateroma plate breaks, after having reached a breaking point that forces it, acute events occur.
Less than 100 milligrams per LDL deciliter is purely healthy.
Up to 130 milligrams per deciliter would be acceptable.
Above that level we are at risk, which increases to become very high above 190.
Certain preventive measures may be taken to increase HDL cholesterol and decrease LDL. This is not exclusive to cardiac patients, but should become routine for anyone, in order to decrease cardiovascular risk.
The key points to act on:
Weight management: An overweight person, in addition to the cardiological risk of obesity, is exposed to increasing their LDL cholesterol. The good news is that reducing your body mass index also causes ‘bad’ cholesterol reduction.
Exercise: Physical activity, unlike sedentary lifestyle, increases HDL cholesterol. Sport consumes body fats to generate the necessary energy demanded by muscles. This removes circulating cholesterol from the arteries, contributing to its cleanliness.
Body weight control is part of the steps we can take to lower bad cholesterol
Healthy food: diet is important in cholesterol control, but not decisive, as previously thought. Studies on the Mediterranean diet suggest that nutritional balance stimulates the work of HDL cholesterol and makes it more efficient in its transport of fats. Also, excessive consumption of saturated fats raises LDL cholesterol above acceptable limits.
Tobacco: among so many negative effects of smoking, one of them is the reduction of HDL.
The quality of life is affected by the sedentary lifestyle and ultra-processed food we eat, among other factors. Our rhythms of existence seem contrary to good organic health.
Therefore, we need to make an effort to modify our habits, increase HDL cholesterol and decrease LDL. This way, we will live longer and better.