Good or Bad Cholesterol?

Raechel Sherrick

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.

Cholesterol Tests

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


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The effects of “Bad” LDL cholesterol compared to “Good” HDL cholesterol [Illustration]. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Hendrickson, K. (2014, May 4). why do doctors monitor the concentration of LDL & HDL? Retrieved March 25, 2015, from

A lipoprotein profile measures the amount of cholesterol in the blood [Illustration]. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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