There are two kinds of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is typically known as the good cholesterol and LDL is known as the bad cholesterol. HDL and LDL are the combinations of fat/protein that carries cholesterol around in the body — particularly around in bloodstreams. This is because cholesterol cannot dissolve in blood, and so lipoproteins are needed to carry the cholesterol out of the blood, according to the American Heart Association. So what’s the difference between HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol?
LDL cholesterol stays in the blood and, if there is too much LDL cholesterol in your blood, the cholesterol can block up your blood vessels. This can lead to health conditions like atherosclerosis which can cause heart attacks, heart diseases, and/or strokes. Lifestyle choices like consuming a diet full of trans or saturated fats, smoking, and/or consuming large amounts of alcohol can all contribute to higher LDL cholesterol levels. Other factors like genetics or family history could also cause high LDL cholesterol levels. LDL cholesterol levels are mainly controlled by diet.
Unlike LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol carries the LDL cholesterol out of the blood vessels. As such, having a higher level of HDL cholesterol is good for the body. HDL cholesterol level is mainly controlled by exercise.
If you have concerns about your cholesterol levels, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Additionally, to ensure that your cholesterol levels are within a healthy range, you should do annual physical and blood tests.
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