Understanding LDL and HDL Cholesterol

Balancing your cholesterol levels is one of the hardest parts of staying healthy. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the effort. Instead, the best way to control your cholesterol is to know everything about it — both how it affects your body, and how you can manage it. 

Dr. Michael Skardasis and his experienced team at Optimal Performance Medicine strive to provide you with the best information so you can live life at your healthiest. Here’s what you need to know about cholesterol so you can support your body in the best way possible.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance with a waxy consistency. Your liver makes it naturally but it can also be found in certain foods that you eat. While cholesterol has a bad reputation, your body actually needs some cholesterol to construct cell membranes, hormones, and vitamins. 

A basic blood screening can determine whether or not you have healthy levels of cholesterol by looking at all of the fats in your blood. Your blood reveals how many LDL, HDL, and triglycerides are present in your blood, which can say a lot about your vascular and cardiovascular health. Healthy levels of total cholesterol will fall between 125-200mg/dL.

To keep your cholesterol levels in check, you have to start with a basic knowledge of the two main types of cholesterol. 

LDL cholesterol

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol. The bad thing about this cholesterol is that it can cause a buildup of plaque in your arteries. The more narrow your arteries become, the greater your risk is for a wide range of potentially life-threatening conditions like heart attacks, blood clots, artery ruptures, angina, carotid artery disease, strokes, and peripheral arterial disease. 

High levels of LDL are often the result of poor dietary habits. Saturated fats found in foods like whole milk, butter, cheese, red meat, and eggs can make your LDL levels spike. Trans fats, like the ones found in cakes, cookies, crackers, and fried foods, are also notorious for adding unhealthy amounts of LDL into your system. 

HDL cholesterol 

Think of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol as a plumber for your arteries. Your liver produces 75% of your cholesterol and also processes and removes excess cholesterol from the foods you eat. HDL cholesterol moves through your blood vessels, picking up unnecessary cholesterol along the way, and carries it to your liver. It aids your liver in getting rid of the extra cholesterol that might have stuck around and clogged your arteries. 

HDL cholesterol is in lots of foods including:

Ideally, you have high levels of HDL cholesterol (>60mg/dL) and low levels of LDL (<100mg/dL). 

What if you have high cholesterol?

High cholesterol can be a genetic or age-related issue, but it’s most commonly caused by an unhealthy diet and poor lifestyle choices. A high-fat diet, being overweight or obese, or not getting enough exercise can all contribute to dangerous levels of cholesterol. 

Unfortunately, there are no tangible signs and symptoms of high cholesterol and even young people can have it, so it’s important that you get your blood checked regularly, especially if you identify with any of the risk factors listed above. 

Dr. Skardasis and his team always begin treating your high cholesterol with lifestyle and diet modifications first. Your treatment plan might include:

No two people experience high cholesterol the same, so we work closely with you to create a plan that’s right for you. 

If these methods don’t prove to be successful, Dr. Skardasis can prescribe some cholesterol-controlling medications with the goal of eventually weaning you off of the prescription. 

Managing your cholesterol can feel like walking across a tightrope. We can help you find the right balance with our expert care and support. If you’d like more information or would like to schedule an appointment to check your cholesterol, call our office or schedule an appointment online today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

I'm Ready to Lose Weight: Where Do I Begin?

I'm Ready to Lose Weight: Where Do I Begin?

Climbing the weight-loss mountain is no small feat. You need the right equipment and outlook from the jump, or you won’t make it past the foothills. Here, we offer guidance that can help you take your first steps confidently.
The Dangers of High Blood Pressure

The Dangers of High Blood Pressure

You know having high blood pressure is bad for your health, but do you know the worst-case scenario? Don’t get caught off guard — keep reading to learn about the dangers of high blood pressure and why controlling hypertension matters.
4 Ways to Help Treat Your Depression

4 Ways to Help Treat Your Depression

Discussing depression has become more mainstream, but that doesn’t mean it’s easier to treat. Getting a handle on your mental health issues is complicated, and we approach depression treatment in more than one way. Here’s what you should know.
The Link Between Poor Nutrition and Fatigue

The Link Between Poor Nutrition and Fatigue

From all-nighters to the common cold, there could be many obvious reasons you’re feeling worn out. Chronic fatigue, however, may seem to come out of nowhere. Here, we highlight a lesser-known factor of fatigue: poor nutrition.
If I Had Gestational Diabetes, Will I Get It Again?

If I Had Gestational Diabetes, Will I Get It Again?

When you’re pregnant, your health comes under a microscope, especially if you’ve had problems before. But does a past gestational diabetes diagnosis mean you’re destined for another? We answer this and other questions here.
Why Is Hypothyroidism More Common in Women?

Why Is Hypothyroidism More Common in Women?

With hypothyroidism, your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, triggering an avalanche of frustrating, uncomfortable symptoms. This condition is more likely to occur in women. Here’s what could be behind the gender disparity with hypothyroidism.