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Cholesterol Blood Tests: What HDL, LDL, Good Cholesterol, Bad Cholesterol really are

Cholesterol Blood Tests: What HDL, LDL, Good Cholesterol, Bad Cholesterol really are

What does it mean?

Cholesterol and triglyceride tests are blood tests that measure the total amount of fatty substances (cholesterol and triglycerides) in the blood.

Cholesterol travels through the blood attached to a protein. This cholesterol-protein package is called a lipoprotein. When your doctor orders your cholesterol or lipid profile, the test measures blood levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.


What does it all mean?

HDL stands for High Density Lipoprotein 
HDL cholesterol is sometimes called “good” cholesterol. That is because it helps remove fat from the body by carrying the cholesterol back to the liver for disposal. A high level of HDL cholesterol is beneficial. It may lower your chances of developing heart disease or having a stroke.

LDL, stands for Low Density Lipoprotein 
LDL cholesterol is considered “bad” because high levels of LDL lead to cholesterol being deposited in artery walls. These deposits, or plaques, line the arterial walls and eventually lead to the development of atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries. This is one of the underlying causes of heart attack and strokes.

Triglycerides are a type of fat the body uses to store energy. High levels of triglyceride are just as much a risk factor for heart disease and cardiovascular disease, as is cholesterol. However, high levels of triglyceride, when combined with high LDL cholesterol levels, increase your chances of having heart disease more than having only a high LDL cholesterol level.

Knowing the difference between “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol” is an important part of managing your own health. Knowing which foods you should eat to keep the “good cholesterol” high and the “bad cholesterol” low is even more important.

HDL cholesterol is raised when we consume unsaturated fats, found in fish, nuts and avocado. You should consume these foods regularly as part of a healthy, balanced diet. HDL levels are also raised by losing weight and taking part in regular exercise, especially resistance exercise.

LDL cholesterol is lowered through all of the healthy recommendations outlined above, together with a reduction in saturated fat intake. Saturated fats are found mainly in fatty meats and full-cream dairy products.

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