Thursday, October 23, 2014

HDL and LDL: The Good and The Bad Cholesterol

While explaining the desired effects of Antilipidemic medications to an elderly American patient, he politely asked me one witty question. "What makes the LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) a 'Bad Cholesterol' as you've mentioned and the HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) a 'Good Cholesterol?"

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that's found in all of your cells and has several useful functions, which includes helping to build your body's cells. It is carried through your bloodstream attached to proteins. And these proteins are called lipoproteins. There are two main types of lipoproteins: The LDL or the Low Density Lipoprotein and HDL or the High Density Lipoprotein.


LDL or Low Density Lipoprotein contains more cholesterol than any other lipoproteins. LDLs mainly transport cholesterol from the liver to the periphery and have strong affinity with arterial walls which can eventually lead to hardening as well as narrowing of arteries (Atherosclerosis) if LDLs kept on building up. And if the blood vessels narrow, efficient blood flow will be affected which can also cause coronary heart disease, if left unmanaged. That is why, LDL is considered a 'Bad Cholesterol'.

While HDL or High Density Lipoprotein contains more protein by weight and less lipid or fats than any other lipoprotein. It carries lipids 'away' from the arteries and to the liver for metabolism. They act as cholesterol scavengers, taking up excess cholesterol in your blood and taking it back to your liver to be broken down. Therefore, a high LDL is desirable and is considered a 'Good Cholesterol'.

So how can we decrease the undesirable LDL and increase the desirable HDL? Here are the simple tips I have gathered from the experts in Mayo Clinic:

1. Decrease the amount of triglyceride-rich food in your diet such as lard, butterfat, and coconut oil. Triglyceride is a fatty acid compound and is closely associated with increased LDL.

2. Eat cholesterol-enriched food in moderation. Egg yolk, organ meats such as liver and kidneys are high in cholesterol.

3. Increase intake of high fiber food such as fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, and legumes (stringbeans). 

4. Nuts, fish and other food containing omega-3 fatty acids are excellent choices for improving your LDL to HDL ratio.


5. Quit smoking and drink alcohol only in moderation. Quitting smoking can increase your HDL by 10 percent and moderate use of alcohol has been linked with higher HDL. However if you don't drink, don't start just to try raising your HDL value.

6. Have an active rather than a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise sufficiently. And;

5. If you're already taking Antilipidemic medications, take it religiously as prescribed by your doctor. Antilipidemic drugs can lower the level of circulating blood lipids and may prevent futher atheromatous formation. Don't forget to take it with meals to reduce GI irritation.

I am hoping it helps. Always remember, prevention is way better than cure. Choose the healthier HDL now:) Live Healthy!

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