types of cholesterol

The Three Major Types of Cholesterol

There are various forms of cholesterol, among them Low-density lipoprotein, VLDL, and high-density lipoprotein are the three main types of cholesterol. If your LDL levels are too high, you are at higher risk of heart disease. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol can help protect against heart disease.

People with high levels of VLDL and low levels of LDL are more likely to have a heart attack.

What is cholesterol?

The Cholesterol found in your blood is usually present in a variety of foods, including eggs, meat, and dairy. Cholesterol helps make cell membranes strong and flexible by adding fats that hold together fatty acids called phospholipids.

The body needs some amount of cholesterol for healthy growth and function. Too much cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup inside arteries. This may cause blockages or narrowing of the coronary artery, which supplies oxygenated blood to the heart muscle.

It is important to have some cholesterol in your body. It can help to make hormones and vitamins. But too much cholesterol can lead to health problems like an increased risk of heart disease.  The 3 main types of cholesterol affect your health and risk of heart disease in various ways.

If you have too much cholesterol it can lead to health problems like heart disease.

Types of cholesterol

There are different kinds of cholesterol:

High-density Lipoproteins

Your HDL level should be between 40 mg/dL and 60 mg/dL. You need an adequate supply of HDL because they carry excess cholesterol from the bloodstream back into the liver where it’s broken down and eliminated through bile. They also remove cholesterol from arterial walls so it doesn’t build up there.

Low-Density Lipoproteins

You want your LDL level below 100 mg/dl. Your LDL level will rise if your HDL drops. When your LDL rises above 130 mg/dl it puts you at increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis.

VLDLs (very-low-density lipoprotein VLDL cholesterol)

A triglyceride level over 150 mg/dl is considered elevated. Triglycerides are made when fat gets stored in the liver instead of being used immediately. A person who has this condition usually eats less than normal amounts of food but still gains weight. These people tend to get diabetes and other conditions related to obesity.

You could also read about other types mentioned below as well.

  • The total cholesterol levels are formed by the total of your HDL and LDL levels.
  • non-HDL cholesterol is your total cholesterol minus your HDL (helps calculate your VLDL cholesterol)
  • VLDL and HDL are broken down into intermediate-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
  • chylomicrons are low-density lipoproteins made up of cholesterol, triglycerides, and proteins. 

What does LDL cholesterol do?

Bad cholesterol is the term that refers to low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. It’s a bit oversimplified, as LDL helps you deliver cholesterol to your cells which is important for your health. It’s strongly associated with a higher risk of heart disease if the amount of LDL circulating in your blood is too high.

High levels of LDL circulating in your blood can lead to a build-up of cholesterol plaque in your arteries. This process can sometimes block your blood vessels. This can affect the blood flow.

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Chest tightness – Typical or Atypical Angina
  • CVA (Cardiovascular accident/ Stroke)
  • Heart Dysfunction
  • Renal Pathologies

It is important to know that this process takes a long time. There are a lot of things you can do to help lower your LDL levels if they are raised. There are a lot of things you can do to change the process.

Research shows that the role of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the development of heart disease is supported by decades of research. Although, only one of many factors that contribute to heart disease.

What does HDL cholesterol do?

Good cholesterol is the term used to describe high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The return of LDL cholesterol from your arteries to your body can be accomplished with the help of HDL.

This process is able to help lower your risk of heart disease by stopping the plaque from building up on the walls of your arteries. The risk can be increased if you have too low of a level of high-density lipoproteins.

What does VLDL cholesterol do?

VLDL cholesterol is produced by your hepatocytes. VLDL takes triglycerides from your blood and your body can either use them for energy or store them. VLDL is similar to LDL cholesterol and can cause plaque build-up on your arteries.

How to check your cholesterol?

A lipid profile blood test can measure your LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. It is difficult to measure VLDL directly with a private home blood test but can be done through your GP. A lab will estimate your VLDL levels with the help of  ⅕ of your triglyceride level.

By knowing which types of cholesterol are out of range, you can use lifestyle factors to improve each type.

How to lower LDL cholesterol

Oats, kidney beans, and apples are some of the foods that have a high level of fiber. This type of fiber helps to lower the amount of cholesterol in your body.

A Mediterranean diet describes the traditional diet of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. Fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains are typically high in this type of diet. It’s also very high in monounsaturated fats, which are found in olive oil. It usually consists of low amounts of meat, dairy, and alcohol.

Exercise helps to remove cholesterol from your body and it can be done on a regular basis. 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or75 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week is recommended by the national guidelines.

How to lower VLDL cholesterol

Reducing triglyceride levels will help reduce your VLDL levels.

Your body makes a type of fat called triglycerides when you eat more calories than you need. Eating in a way that is good for you can help prevent this. Following hunger cues, eating slowly, chewing thoroughly, thinking about how it makes you feel, and stopping when full are some of the things that can be done with conscious eating.

In susceptible people, small amounts of alcohol can raise triglyceride levels, so be sure to keep your alcohol intake low. It is better to spend alcohol-free days as the harmful effects of alcohol intake far outweigh its benefits.

How to increase HDL cholesterol

It is suggested that you increase your high-intensity exercise routine to increase your cholesterol levels. Lower-intensity exercises like walking don’t seem to have the same effect as high-intensity exercises for this positive effect.

Smoking cigarettes can affect how well it can function, and it can also affect the levels of cholesterol in the body. Smoking cessation can lead to improvements in your cholesterol levels.

You can test your cholesterol from home easily and affordably here.

References:

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11920-cholesterol-numbers-what-do-they-mean

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22361/

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/risk_factors.htm

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