The difference between bad and good cholesterol

Author: Emily Rudoni


Cholesterol exists in two forms; There is “bad” cholesterol and “good” cholesterol. 




According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), high cholesterol has no symptoms, so many people don’t know that their cholesterol is too high. Having high blood cholesterol raises the risk for heart disease (the leading cause of death) and stroke (the fifth leading cause of death). To be sure that you’re not at risk, it is beneficial to understand how to avoid high levels of bad cholesterol.

The first step to controlling your cholesterol is to understand what it is and where it comes from. “Cholesterol is a waxy substance used by our bodies to make things such as steroid hormones, cell walls, nerve sheets, and vitamins,” said Dr. David Pohl, DO, Physician at McLaren Mid-Michigan Physicians Family Medicine and Lipidology. “We get about half of our cholesterol from what we eat, but our liver is good at making it too, regardless of what we eat.”

Cholesterol exists in two forms; There is “bad” cholesterol and “good” cholesterol. According to Dr. Pohl, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is considered bad cholesterol because it transports cholesterol away from the liver. The cholesterol can accumulate in blood vessels and cause a build-up of plaque. When a plaque blocks off an artery in the heart or brain, it causes heart attack or stroke.

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is referred to as good cholesterol because it absorbs the bad cholesterol from the bloodstream and carries it to the liver to get recycled,” said Dr. Pohl. “HDL levels can be increased through diet and exercise.”

Dr. Pohl recommends avoiding saturated fats. Saturated fats can usually be identified if they come from an animal and/or are solid at room temperature, such as fat in butter, red meat, dairy products, or fried food. Unsaturated fatty acids (found in nuts and fish) and oils (such as olive oil) are healthier for you.

If you think you might have high cholesterol, it is vital to talk to your doctor right away. A blood test once a year is a great way to monitor your cholesterol levels. However, some people should get tested more often, such as those with heart problems or a family history of high cholesterol.

For more information, click here: