Frequently Asked Questions:
What are LDL and HDL?
LDL stands for Low Density Lipoprotein. It is the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in arteries.
HDL stands for High Density Lipoprotein. It helps to remove cholesterol buildup from your arteries.
How do LDL and HDL differ structurally?
LDL is about 50% cholesterol and 25% protein making them smaller and less dense, while HDL is 20% cholesterol and 50% protein - they are larger and more dense. They also differ structurally because of the type of protein they contain. LDL contains B-100 proteins and HDL contains A-I and A-II proteins.
How do LDL and HDL differ functionally?
Both are used to transport cholesterol through the bloodstream. LDL carries the cholesterol to your body, and HDL carries cholesterol out of your body, this is why LDL causes buildup and HDL can remove that buildup.
Why are LDL and HDL levels monitored? How are the levels associated with risk for heart disease?
These levels are monitored because too much LDL and not enough HDL can cause atherosclerosis (which is build up of plaque in arteries), which in turn can cause a heart attack, or other heart related issues.
What other molecules are monitored?
Triglycerides are also monitored, they are a type of fat in the body that is used to store and give energy. These are monitored because too much can increase risk of heart disease.
What do results of a cholesterol test mean?
Results of the test show the amount of total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, and LDL in your blood. LDL levels over 190 are considered very high, for HDL levels, a high number is better - 40 is at risk for heart disease. A normal level for triglycerides is less than 150, 500 is very high.
How can you change LDL and HDL levels?
Changing your diet to reduce amount of fats, sugar, and cholesterol, watching your weight, exercising, and taking extra care as you age will all help you to control LDL & HDL levels and get them where they should be.
How do unsaturated, saturated, and trans fat affect your overall health?
Unsaturated fats are encouraged to reduce risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. Saturated fats raise cholesterol levels and unsaturated fats are a good alternative that won't raise your cholesterol, but give you the nutrients you need. Trans fats also raise cholesterol by increasing LDL and lowering HDL.
Trans and saturated fats are dangerous if too much is consumed on a frequent basis. These fats increase your risk of heart disease because they increase cholesterol levels.