Good and Bad Types of Cholesterol
The GOOD type: High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
- HDL can lower the risk of heart disease by removing LDL. It also helps to maintain the inner walls of the blood vessels.
The BAD type: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
- LDL can build up in the artery walls and form a plaque. If this process continues, the plaque can grow and block the artery. A raised level of LDL can increase the risk of heart disease.
There is a common misconception that high LDL and high blood pressure go hand in hand. This is not the case, as a person can have one without the other. However, eating unhealthily or being overweight can increase the risk of both.
Various risk factors are associated with high cholesterol:
- A diet high in saturated fat and trans fats can increase the chances of having a high level of LDL.
- Smoking is also a risk factor, as this can lower the level of HDL while increasing the overall levels.
- Other risk factors that cannot be controlled are age, family history and gender.
If you are concerned that you may have high cholesterol, you should consult your doctor. They will be able to carry out a test to check the levels of HDL and LDL.
If you do have high cholesterol, you will be advised to make lifestyle changes. These may include losing weight and exercising as well as changing your diet. A diet high in insoluble fiber can help to keep the levels low, with other appropriate foods to eat including fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
For many people, lifestyle changes can be enough to lower their cholesterol. Yet, if this is not sufficient, medication such as statins can be prescribed. Non-prescription supplements can also help such as artichoke extract, barley and flax seed. However, before taking any sort of supplement it is worthwhile to speak with your doctor. If you want more information, there are online resources detailing the supplements that are available, plus any possible side effects they may bring. Reviews and comparisons on the different products can be found on different websites.
- Unhealthy eating can cause raised LDL.
- High LDL can increase the risk of heart disease.
- LDL can be controlled with lifestyle changes or medication.