What Is LDL Cholesterol? An Essential Guide To Understanding And Managing It

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Published on: 19-May-2023

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What Is LDL Cholesterol? An Essential Guide To Understanding And Managing It

What Is LDL Cholesterol? An Essential Guide To Understanding And Managing It

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High cholesterol has become a common problem, and even kids have become victims. The main reason behind it is the bad eating habits we have adopted, including foods with saturated fats and extra dietary cholesterol.

There are different types of cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is bad cholesterol because too much can cause plaque buildup in your arteries.

The amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood is determined by testing. This testing informs you and your doctor about your risk of stroke, developing heart disease, diabetes, and other medical condition. Cholesterol testing can also be used to determine whether or not a treatment for high cholesterol is effective.

Table Of Contents

1. What Is Cholesterol?

2. What Are The Types Of Cholesterol? 

3. What Is LDL Cholesterol?

4. High LDL Level Vs. Coronary Artery Disease

5. Normal Range Of LDL Cholesterol

6. Factors Causing High LDL Cholesterol

7. Dietitian’s Recommendation

8. The Final Say

9. FAQs 

What Is Cholesterol?

In all cells, there is a waxy fat-like substance called cholesterol. Your body requires cholesterol to produce hormones, vitamin D, and substances that aid digestion. It can also be found in animal products such as egg yolks.

Excessive cholesterol in the blood can combine with other substances to form plaque. Plaque adheres to the artery walls. Atherosclerosis is the accumulation of plaque. It can cause coronary artery disease, narrowing or blocking your coronary arteries.

The body produces all the required blood cholesterol. Experts advise people to consume as little dietary cholesterol as possible while following a healthy diet that can help them detoxify their bodies. Animal foods contain dietary cholesterol, such as meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.

What Are The Types Of Cholesterol? 

Type of cholesterol

 

HDL, LDL, and VLDL are all lipoproteins. They are made up of fat (lipid) and protein. The lipids must be attached to the proteins to move through the blood. Different lipoproteins serve different functions:

  • HDL is an abbreviation for high-density lipoprotein. It is called good cholesterol because it transports cholesterol from other body parts back to the liver. The cholesterol is then removed from your body by your liver.
  • LDL is an abbreviation for low-density lipoprotein. It is called bad cholesterol because a high LDL level causes plaque build-up in your arteries.
  • VLDL is an abbreviation for very low-density lipoprotein. VLDL is also commonly known as "bad" cholesterol because it is responsible for plaque build-up in your arteries.

What Is LDL Cholesterol?

The most common type of cholesterol found in your blood is low-density lipoprotein (LDL). The term LDL refers to low-density lipoprotein. It is a type of lipoprotein that can be found in your blood. Each LDL particle has a lipoprotein coat and a cholesterol core.

Although it is commonly called bad cholesterol, LDL cholesterol is not inherently harmful. LDL cholesterol is required by the body to protect nerves and to produce cells and hormones.

LDL cholesterol accumulates as plaque in the walls of blood vessels at higher levels. This build-up can lead to atherosclerosis, or artery hardening, over time.

Lipoproteins are lipid (fat) and protein particles that transport fats through your bloodstream. 

Due to their structure, fats cannot pass through your bloodstream independently. Lipoproteins act as carriers of fats to various cells in your body. LDL particles contain a lot of cholesterol and a little bit of protein.

High LDL Level Vs. Coronary Artery Disease 

Plaque is formed by extra LDL and other substances. A high LDL level indicates an excess of LDL cholesterol in your blood. Plaque accumulates in your arteries, causing a condition known as atherosclerosis.

Coronary artery disease results from plaque accumulation in your heart's arteries. It causes the arteries to harden and narrow, slowing or blocking blood flow to your heart. Because your blood transports oxygen to your heart, your heart may not receive enough oxygen. This can result in angina (chest pain) or a heart attack if the blood flow is completely cut off.

Normal Range Of LDL Cholesterol

Most adults should keep their LDL cholesterol (LDL) below 100 mg/dL. If atherosclerosis runs in your family, your LDL cholesterol should be under 70 mg/dL.

Your risk of cardiovascular disease increases if your LDL level is greater than 100 mg/dL. 

Following is the normal reference range for your LDL cholesterol level:

  • Normal- Below 100 mg/dL.
  • Near-optimal- 100-129 mg/dL.
  • Borderline high- 130- 159 mg/dL.
  • High- 160-189 mg/dL.
  • Very high- 190 mg/dL or higher.

Factors Causing High LDL Cholesterol

Factors Causing High LDL Cholesterol

Many factors can cause your LDL level to rise. You have some control over the following factors:

1. What You Eat 

Fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, bakery items, and fast food are bad for cholesterol levels. This is because they are high in saturated fat and, in some cases, trans fat. These two types of fat raise LDL cholesterol levels. Eat foods high in proteins to have balanced cholesterol levels. 

2. Your Body Weight 

Obesity and being overweight can raise your LDL cholesterol.

3. Using Or Smoking Tobacco Products

Tobacco consumption (including smokeless tobacco and vaping) lowers HDL levels. Tobacco use raises your LDL level by lowering your HDL level. You require a healthy HDL cholesterol level to remove additional LDL cholesterol from your blood.

4. Age 

Your cholesterol levels naturally rise as you age.

5. Genetics

 If you have close biological family members who have high cholesterol, you may also be at risk.

Dietitian’s Recommendation

LDL cholesterol is bad cholesterol, but it is easily controlled with a healthy diet and exercise routine. Regular exercise and soluble fibre consumption have been shown in studies to lower LDL cholesterol. This type of fibre (roughage) prevents your body from absorbing cholesterol. As a result, try to consume more dietary fibre and engage in physical activity. 

- Dietitian Lavina Chauhan

The Final Say 

If a person's LDL cholesterol levels are too high, they may develop atherosclerotic plaque in their blood vessels, leading to cardiovascular disease over time. HDL cholesterol is commonly known as "good cholesterol", whereas LDL cholesterol is referred to as "bad cholesterol" HDL cholesterol carries cholesterol to the liver, where it is broken down.

As some people inherit a gene that causes high LDL cholesterol, they must avoid fatty foods and stay active. Exercise and eating foods low in saturated and trans fats can help people lower their LDL cholesterol. Fibre-rich foods can also help raise HDL cholesterol.

FAQs

1. What does happen when your LDL is high?

LDL cholesterol can form a build-up on the walls of our blood vessels when our body has too much of it. Plaque is the term for this accumulation, which can result in health issues like heart disease and stroke. 

2. How do I lower my LDL?

By consuming fewer saturated fats, you can lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol. Also, eliminating trans fats can help lower LDL. Trans fats, such as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, margarine and cookies, crackers and cakes etc.

3. Does coffee affect your cholesterol?

No, coffee does not contain cholesterol. It can affect cholesterol levels.

4. Can LDL go away?

Following a few days of healthier living, cholesterol decreases gradually rather than immediately. There is no specific time frame within which cholesterol is assured to decrease. Drugs that decrease cholesterol often cause a change in LDL within 6 to 8 weeks. Lifestyle changes may lower cholesterol levels within a few weeks. 

5. Does walking every day lower cholesterol?

Your good cholesterol increases while your bad cholesterol decreases when you walk. You can increase your "good" cholesterol (HDL) and decrease your "bad" cholesterol (LDL) by a few points with just a brisk 30-minute three walks per week.

Even if you don't lose weight, it has been demonstrated that this much activity will lower your cholesterol.

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