Cholesterol, the fat-like substance found in all cells of the body, is often referred to as 'good' and 'bad', but what's the difference between them? Knowledge of cholesterol and its consequences on health are key to understanding how to keep your levels in check and prevent any potential health problems.
In this article, we'll explore everything you need to know about cholesterol, from what it is, to the benefits of the different types and how to keep your levels healthy.
Are all cholesterol bad?
Despite what you may have heard, not all cholesterol is bad. Whilst it's true that high levels of your total cholesterol can lead to health problems, it's important to understand that there are two types of cholesterol; High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) and Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL).
HDL cholesterol is known as the 'good cholesterol' as it helps to remove the 'bad cholesterol' from the bloodstream and move it to the liver to be eliminated from the body.
LDL, or 'bad cholesterol' is a type of cholesterol that can cause health problems, including cardiac arrest (heart attack)!
What's the difference between HDL and LDL?
The primary difference between HDL and LDL cholesterol is how they are transported.
HDL cholesterol is known as the 'good cholesterol' because it carries cholesterol from the liver to the cells to be released from your body.
LDL cholesterol on the other hand carries cholesterol to your arteries, where they can more easily collect on your artery walls, creating clogs, resulting in blockages.
What’s a healthy level of total cholesterol?
It’s important to keep track of your cholesterol levels, and with regular check-ups (at least once a year), you can stay on top of your cholesterol levels and any other health-related issues. Aim to keep your total cholesterol (TC) level lower than 5.2 mmol/L, to keep your health on the right track.
How do we keep our total cholesterol levels in check?
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References and further reading:
1. MedlinePlus. (2020). Cholesterol. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/cholesterol.html
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Check Your Cholesterol. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/check_your_cholesterol.htm
3. Luscombe-Marsh, N. (2020). What Is The Difference Between ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Cholesterol? Retrieved from https://www.menshealth.com.au/what-is-the-difference-between-good-and-bad-cholesterol
4. 5th Edition of Clinical Practice Guidelines – Management of Dyslipidemia 2017 https://www.moh.gov.my/moh/resources/Penerbitan/CPG/CARDIOVASCULAR/4.pdf