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Understanding the Difference Between Good and Bad Cholesterol

April 06, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 120

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that assists the production of cell membranes and hormones. It is essential for normal body function. Triglycerides, a type of fat, are one portion of cholesterol.

Cholesterol exists in various forms in people's bodies. Low density lipoprotein, or LDL, is a "bad" form of cholesterol. LDL molecules are actually proteins that transport cholesterol from your liver, where cholesterol is made, through your arteries to the rest of your body. High density cholesterol, or HDL, is a "good" form of cholesterol. HDL brings the cholesterol back to your liver where it is purged from the body.

A fasting cholesterol profile is a medical test that identifies your ratio of HDL to LDL. This test will tell you what harmful effect cholesterol is having on your heart. The test should be taken every five years. Your HDL level should be higher than your LDL level. This means that your body is able to remove extra cholesterol. If your LDL level is higher than your HDL level, cholesterol is building up inside your body. It will combine with other chemicals and substances to create plaques on your arterial walls. This can lead to a condition known as atheroscierosis, as plaques stiffen your arteries and make them narrower. This reduces the flow of blood and has the potential to lead to heart attacks and strokes.

One third of the cholesterol in your body comes from the foods you eat. The rest is produced by your liver. Typically, your liver will produce all of the cholesterol your body needs in order to fulfill certain functions. You do not need more cholesterol than your liver produces. The foods you choose to eat will determine the balance between the good and bad cholesterol in your body. Foods with large amounts of saturated fats and dietary cholesterol will raise your levels of bad cholesterol while lowering the levels of your good cholesterol. To make matters worse, some people are genetically predisposed to create more LDL and less HDL in their bodies. People with this genetic condition see their levels of unhealthy cholesterol build up quickly.

When you eat more calories that your body needs, the extra calories are converted into triglycerides which are stored in your fat cells where they can be used later. Like LDL, triglycerides can contribute to plaque build-up in your arteries, just like LDL. The exact nature of how triglycerides contribute to the creation plaque is unknown. However, study after study confirms that high levels of triglycerides are consistently linked with heart disease. Researchers are still trying to determine exactly how and why this correlation exists.

Heart disease is still the primary cause of death in people. Understanding the differences between good cholesterol and bad cholesterol will help your heart stay healthy. Eating a healthy diet can reduce your levels of bad cholesterol and reduce the chance of heart attacks and strokes.

Chris has been writing articles online for nearly 2 years now. Not only does this author specialize in diet, fitness and weight loss, he also helps his friends publish websites related to the subject. You can also check out her latest website on weight loss smoothies which gives great advice and recipes for smoothies for weight loss. Visit

Source: EzineArticles
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