Cholesterol is part of a group of fatty substances within the human body known as “lipids”. These lipids are mostly constructed by your liver, but they can also be found in some foods. Although having too many lipids within the standard blood stream can be a bad thing for you and your health, it’s worth noting that it’s the LDL cholesterol that you need to be watching out for, not necessarily cholesterol in general.
What Are the Different Types of Cholesterol?
Cholesterols are lipids that are carried through your body by proteins. When these proteins and lipids combine, they make up lipoproteins – and there are two different types for the average person to be aware of. The first is “high-density lipoproteins” which are involved with carrying cholesterol away from the cells and back into the liver where these can be effectively broken down and excreted from the body in the urine. Because HDL or high-density lipoproteins reduce your overall cholesterol levels, they’re often referred to as “good” cholesterol.
The other option in the lipoprotein world, is low-density lipoprotein, which transports cholesterol around your body in a similar way to HDL. However, with LDL, there can be too much cholesterol for the body to use, and this substance can quickly build up in the walls of the arteries, leading to hardening of the arteries and clogging them, causing blood pressure to increase. For this reason, LDL cholesterol is known as thee bad cholesterol. The amount of cholesterol you have in your blood can be analyzed with a lipid protein test.
Why is HDL the Good Cholesterol?
In this article, we’ll be focusing on high-density lipoproteins, or the good cholesterol. This well-behaved cholesterol is often the kind that you want to get more of whenever possible, as it helps to scavenge through the bloodstream and remove dangerous LDLD cholesterol from areas throughout the body.
A high level of HDL in your bloodstream can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, while lower levels of HDL are more likely to increase your risk for heart problems. HDL is short for high-density lipoprotein, as mentioned above. Every bit of HDL cholesterol in your body is simply a tiny blob of biochemical compounds, consisting of a lipoprotein rim around a cholesterol middle. The HDL particle is far more dense than other types of cholesterol particles, hence it’s special name.
The important thing to know about HDL cholesterol, is that it’s useful to your health. After all, not all cholesterol is bad – it’s actually an essential fat that keeps your cells working in a stable and reliable way. To be carried properly through the bloodstream, cholesterol needs to be transported by helper proteins called lipoproteins.
Each type of lipoprotein has its own preference for the kind of cholesterol it wants to carry, and each acts differently according to the cholesterol in question. Experts believe that HDL cholesterol can work in a number of different ways to help reduce the risk of heart disease. First of all, it removes bad cholesterol from your system so it’s less likely to build up into plaque.
When you have too much LDL in your body, it can cling to the walls of arteries, causing them to become narrow and hard. This increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. However, HDL cholesterol reuses and reduces the LDL cholesterol in your body by transporting it to the liver where it can be carefully reprocessed.
HDL cholesterol acts as a kind of maintenance crew for the inner walls of your blood vessels. They scrub away the LDL cholesterol, and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
How Do You Know if You Have Good Levels of HDL Cholesterol?
As mentioned above, your cholesterol levels can be measured using a special type of blood test called a lipid panel. If your HDL cholesterol levels are higher than 60mg per deciliter, then doctors will generally say that you have good cholesterol. HDL cholesterol levels that are lower than 40 mg per deciliter are low, which means that you’re going to need to work with your doctor to find ways of raising your HDL level.
If your HDL levels are low, you can take various steps to boost your HDL levels and limit your risk of heart disease. For instance, aerobic exercise for up to an hour most days throughout the week can help to enhance your HDL levels. On the other hand, most doctors will also recommend banishing bad habits like smoking.
Tobacco smoke is more likely to lower your HDL levels, and quitting the habit could increase your HDL levels over all. Additionally, you should do your best to maintain a healthy weight whenever possible. Avoiding obesity can reduce your risk for problems like heart disease and stroke.
Managing Your HDL Cholesterol Levels:
In some cases, your doctor might recommend that you start taking medication as a way of managing your cholesterol levels. You should remember that there are several factors aside from cholesterol that can contribute to heart disease, including smoking, diabetes, obesity, and more. Additionally, even your genetics can increase your chances of suffering from heart-based problems.
Because there are so many factors contributing to heart disease, it’s important to note that cholesterol isn’t everything. People with good HDL cholesterol levels can still get heart disease, just as people with low levels of this essential substance can also have healthy hearts.
Of course, keeping track of your cholesterol levels can be useful if you want to improve your chances of a healthy heart. People with abnormal lipid panels might need to think about changing their diet and exercise plans, or taking medication to improve their health.
If you have low HDL levels or high cholesterol, you should be taking steps to increase your HDL cholesterol, by eating right, not smoking, and exercising regularly. Lifestyle changes can also make a big difference for most people, thus preventing stroke and heart disease.