What Is Non-HDL Cholesterol?


Non-HDL cholesterol, or LDL (low density lipoprotein), is a potentially harmful form of cholesterol. Higher levels of low density lipoproteins or "bad cholesterol" is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.


  • LDL cholesterol is made up of undissolved fatty acids. LDL is produced by the liver and is essential to the maintenance of healthy cells. However, when LDL concentrations are too high, it will begin to build up on the arterial walls and harden into plaque. This can lead to heart disease.


  • HDL or "good cholesterol" removes LDL from the blood and carries it to the liver to be excreted from the body. Because of this, in a cholesterol test, high concentrations of HDL cholesterol are often associated with lower amounts of potentially harmful LDL cholesterol.


  • As LDL builds up on the arterial walls, it forms the hard waxlike substance referred to as arterial plaque. This plaque restricts blood flow to and from the heart and can eventually leads to a stroke or a heart attack. The arterial walls also harden, a serious condition called atherosclerosis.

Expert Insight

  • According to the Mayo Clinic and the American Heart Association, in healthy persons LDL cholesterol numbers should be below 130 mg per deciliter of blood. In persons at risk for cardiovascular disease, LDL cholesterol should be at or below 70 mg/dL.


  • To keep non-HDL cholesterol at a safe level, reduce saturated fat intake and increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Consuming 10g of fiber per day (found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) will also help to regulate non-HDL cholesterol levels.


  • The use of tobacco products and excessive consumption of alcohol will increase the amount of non-HDL cholesterol present in the bloodstream. Eliminate tobacco products entirely and consume alcohol only in moderation.

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