Good or Bad Cholesterol?
There is only one kind of cholesterol, and it is not good or bad. When people talk about good and bad cholesterol they're actually talking about the lipoproteins that carry cholesterol.
The two types of carriers are LDL and HDL. LDL carries cholesterol through the bloodstream to the cells. HDL removes extra cholesterol from the blood.
Doctors monitor LDL and HDL to help assess a patient's risk for heart disease. HDL and LDL levels are associated with heart disease because if HDL is too low while LDL is high arteries can become blocked and cause a heart attack or stroke. Doctors also monitor total cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Ideal test results are:
Total Cholesterol < 200 mg/dL
HDL > 50 mg/dL
LDL < 100 mg/dL
Triglycerides < 150 mg/dL
Managing LDL and HDL Levels
The best way to improve your LDL and HDL levels is through proper diet and exercise. Lowering the amount of cholesterol and calories derived from fat (especially trans fats) can improve your lipoprotein levels as well.
The Effects of Fats on Cholesterol
Polyunsaturated fats - lower total cholesterol, lower HDL and LDL
Monounsaturated fats - Lower cholesterol, lower LDL, raise HDL
Saturated fats - Raise cholesterol, Raise LDL
Omega 3 - Lower triglycerides, lower cholesterol
Trans fats - Raises cholesterol, raises LDL, lowers HDL
Bellows, L., & Moore, R. (2014, August 8). Dietary facts and cholesterol. Retrieved April 8, 2015, from http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09319.html
Cassis, A. (n.d.). How to change HDL and LDL levels. Retrieved April 8, 2015, from Jillian Michaels website: http://livewell.jillianmichaels.com/change-hdl-ldl-levels-4778.html
Cholesterol and triglycerides tests. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/cholesterol-and-triglycerides-tests
The effects of “Bad” LDL cholesterol compared to “Good” HDL cholesterol [Illustration]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://alcachofahealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/ldl-vs-hdl-cholesterol.jpg
Hendrickson, K. (2014, May 4). why do doctors monitor the concentration of LDL & HDL? Retrieved March 25, 2015, from http://www.livestrong.com/article/144497-why-do-doctors-monitor-the-concentration-of-ldl-hdl/
A lipoprotein profile measures the amount of cholesterol in the blood [Illustration]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://thescienceofeating.com/fats/understanding-cholesterol/