What Are the 2 Types of Cholesterol?

By Jordan Meyers

  • Overview

    What Are the 2 Types of Cholesterol?
    Cholesterol is often a hot topic because of the fact that too-high cholesterol levels can leave a person vulnerable to developing heart disease. What many people don't realize is there are two types of cholesterol, and one of them isn't considered bad for your health.
  • Identification

    Cholesterol is not only found in many foods but also made by a person's liver, meaning everyone has some in his body. Somewhat waxlike in consistency, cholesterol gets a bad rap because of its potential to lead to deadly health problems. However, cholesterol is actually necessary for building cells, making substances that help in digestion, producing hormones and making vitamin D. The human body makes enough cholesterol that consuming it in food isn't really necessary.
  • Types

    There are two types of cholesterol, referred to as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL is the "good" type of cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association, there is evidence that this type can provide protection from heart attacks. When a person has low amounts of HDL in his bloodstream, he might be more at risk of developing heart disease. The American Heart Association defines low levels as less than 40 mg of HDL per liter of blood.

  • HDL

    No one is certain about how HDL helps to protect a person's health. One theory is that it works to stop cholesterol from building up in the arteries by moving it to the liver and keeping it from leading to damaging clogs. Once it is moved back to the liver, it can then exit the body. Doctors and scientists also think HDL might remove overages of cholesterol that have already built up in a person's arteries. Soluble fiber, omega-3 acids, and olive and canola oils are thought to help increase levels of HDL.
  • LDL

    LDL is the cholesterol villain that contributes to heart disease. It is this type of cholesterol that builds up in a person's arteries. It forms a thick plaque inside the arteries that lead to the brain and heart. As this buildup grows, the arteries grow narrower, and they lose their flexibility. This is a risk because a clot could form and cause the artery to be blocked. The effects can be devastating because the person might have a stroke or a heart attack. Fatty meats, saturated fats and trans fatty acids can increase LDL levels.
  • Too Much

    According to the Mayo Clinic, there are three ranges of high LDL cholesterol. A person with a level of more than 130 mg/dL is considered borderline high until the level reaches 159 mg/dL. Anything more than 159 mg/dL is considered high, with a level of more than 190 mg/dL considered extremely high.
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