What is Good Cholesterol & Bad Cholesterol ?

Before knowing what is a good/bad cholesterol ,first we should know what is cholesterol .
Cholesterol is a steroid,carried in the bloodstream as a lipoprotien.It is necessary for cell membrane functioning & as a precursor to bile acids,progesterone, vitamin D , estrogens , glucocorticoids & mineralocorticocoids.Cholesterol can't dissolve in the blood.It has to be transported to and from the cells by carriers called lipoproteins.

High- Density Lipoprotein (HDL) - Good Cholesterol

HDL is produced by the liver & consists of mainly cholesterol,protein & phospolipid. About one-fourth to one-third of blood cholesterol is carried by high-density Lipoprotein (HDL).HDL is known as Good Cholesterol,because high levels of HDL seems to protect against heart attack.Low levels of HDL (Less than 40 mg/dl for men and less than 50 mg/dl for women) all increase the risk of heart disease.Medical experts think that HDL tends to carry cholesterol away  from the arteries and back to the liver,where it is passed from the body.Some experts believe that HDL remove excess cholesterol from arterial plaque,slowing its buildup.

Reference values for  High- Density Lipoprotein (HDL) - Good Cholesterol

HDL Cholesterol Level
<40 mg/dl
  Major risk factor for heart disease
40 – 60 mg/dl
  “The higher,the better”
>60 mg/dl
  Considered protective against heart disease

Image Courtesy-www.fiickr.com

Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL)

LDL cholesterol is produced by the metabolism of VLDL cholesterol & consists of mainly cholesterol,protein & phospolipids that carry cholesterol in the bloodstream from the liver to the peripheral tissues. When too much LDL (bad) cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances, it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, heart attack or stroke can result.

Reference values for  Low- Density Lipoprotein (LDL) - Bad Cholesterol

LDL Cholesterol Level
<100 mg/dl
100 – 129 mg/dl
Near optimal
130 – 159 mg/dl
Borderline high
160 – 189 mg/dl
>190 mg/dl
Very high

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