HDL and LDL are both lipids, or proteins that carry the cholesterol molecule around the body. HDL is commonly known as "good" cholesterol, while LDL is the "bad" cholesterol. It is much more desirable to have high levels of HDL in the body than it is to have elevated LDL levels.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) carries about one third to one fourth of blood cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association, medical experts believe that HDL carries cholesterol back to the liver where it is eliminated from the body. These experts feel that this removes excess cholesterol from arteries, reducing the buildup of plaque.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), in a manner opposite from HDL, carries cholesterol from the liver, where it is synthesized, or made, and brings it to the arteries. Too much of this substance in the arteries can result in blockages that can lead to heart disease or heart attacks.
High Levels of HDL
Elevated HDL levels are preferred. According to the American Heart Association, levels that are lower than 40 to 50 mg.dL may put a person at more risk for heart disease than someone with a higher level. A level of 60 mg/dL or higher appears to give some protection to the heart.
High LDL Levels
High LDL levels are concerning. The lower the LDL level, the better. Levels that are less than 100 mg/dL are desired with anything 150 mg/dL or higher being dangerous. The higher the LDL level, the higher the risk of heart disease.
Adjust Your Levels
The best way to keep LDL cholesterol low is to monitor your food intake. A diet that is low in cholesterol and saturated fat and high in fiber will help in lowering the levels of LDL in the blood, according to the American Dietetic Association (ADA). The ADA also recommends maintaining a healthy weight and leading an active lifestyle to keep HDL levels elevated.
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