Cholesterol is not all bad. Our bodies do need some cholesterol to aid in the production of vitamin D and facilitate the building of cell structures, digestive bile acids, and hormones. Too much cholesterol, however, can increase your chance of getting heart disease, a stroke, or having a heart attack.

It is important to monitor your cholesterol by getting tested and understanding your numbers.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a lipid (a waxy-like substance) fat that is made by the liver and is transported in the body through the blood.

What are the different types of cholesterol?

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) the “good” cholesterol. This is the “good” type of cholesterol because it moves cholesterol to your liver to be released from your body. HDL helps rid your body of excess cholesterol so it’s less likely to end up in your arteries. How best to remember this is you want the H (HDL) cholesterol to be High.

LDL (low-density lipoprotein) “bad” cholesterol. This is the kind of cholesterol that contributes to plaque buildup in your arteries. How best to remember this is think L (LDL) cholesterol to be Low.

VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein). This is another form of “bad” cholesterol that contributes to plaque buildup. It carries a kind of fat called triglycerides.

Total Cholesterol: The total of cholesterol types circulating in your blood. Your doctor will look at the ratio of your bad (LDL) to your good (HDL) cholesterol to further refine their recommendations for your treatment goals. For example, those with very high HDL tend to have good protection even when they have high total cholesterol.

5 Tips to Lower Your Cholesterol

  1. Eat a heart-healthy diet (give plant-based foods a high priority on your plate, choose foods low in saturated fat and eliminate trans fats).
  2. Stay active. Exercise on a daily basis. Daily activity can help raise HDL (the “good” cholesterol).
  3. Quit smoking
  4. Maintain a healthy weight
  5. If you drink alcohol, only do so in moderation.



Source: Cleveland Clinic Sources: Cleveland Clinic, Healthline, American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic

Originally Published in: THE HEART OF JACKSONVILLE | Issue 12 2024