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“Good Cholesterol” is what HDL is Often Called

“Good Cholesterol” is what HDL is Often Called

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Dr. Lawrence S. Sperling, director of preventive cardiology at the Emory School of Medicine, in Atlanta, suggests replacing the common tag of “good cholesterol” given to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) with ?healthy cholesterol.


HDL carries about one-fourth to one-third of all blood cholesterol, and its function is to protect us against heart attacks. HDL’s counterpart, the low-density lipoprotein (LDP or “bad cholesterol”), clogs the arteries leading to the heart and brain, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Just the opposite of Sperling saying “healthy” is what good cholesterol or HDL should be named, is his nickname for LDL: “lousy cholesterol.”


Even if “healthy” is what HDL stands for, low HDL levels and high LDL levels commonly associated with persons with high triglycerides can lead to heart disease and/or diabetes. Triglycerides are another form of fat made in the body and their high levels can be due to obesity, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption, or a diet too rich in carbohydrates.


Another type of cholesterol is Lp(a), primarily a genetic variation of LDL cholesterol. A high level of Lp(a) cholesterol presents a significant risk of premature development of unwanted fatty deposits in arteries. HDL attaches to bad cholesterol in arteries and flushes them to the liver and then out of the body.


In other words, HDL is not always ?good?, since low levels of HDL in the body will generate negative consequences. The optimum level of HDL in the body is above 60 mg/dL, and if that level dips below 40 mg/dL, you become at risk of heart disease.


Some experts, again espousing virtues of the healthy cholesterol, say that HDL removes excess arterial plaque, thus slowing its buildup and the increase of LDL. The culminating effect of this interaction between the negative effects of plaque and of LDL and the positive effect of HDL provides us with an excellent example of “healthy cholesterol”, which is what HDL equates to as long as sufficient quantities are maintained in the body.

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