Good Cholesterol vs. Bad Cholesterol

Good Cholesterol vs. Bad Cholesterol

Mackenzie Thompson

by Mackenzie Thompson

Life Saver, AMC

posted on Oct 29, 2013, at 9:53 pm


Ever wonder how cholesterol can be good and bad at the same time? How does that work? How can I keep the good stuff and get rid of the bad stuff? Knowing the answers to these questions is essential to someone who is attempting to be certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support.

Coursing through the veins of every human being, along with blood, water, and other nutrients, are a number of lipoproteins (a molecule made up of proteins and fat). The two most prominent of these lipoproteins are “low-density lipoproteins” (LDLs), which are known as bad cholesterol, and “high-density lipoproteins” (HDLs), or good cholesterol. These two lipoproteins are vehicles for cholesterol, speeding every which way on the bodily highway that is the human bloodstream. Lipoproteins are produced in the liver and sent out to transport fats to places in the body where they could help cell construction. Let’s take a look at the two different types of lipoproteins and how the cholesterol they carry can be properly balanced.

Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDLs)

Low-density lipoproteins are problematic because they have the tendency to stick to the sides of arteries, causing eventual build up that can lead to heart disease, a heart attack, or even a stroke. When LDLs and other materials build up a plaque on the sides of major arteries, blood has a more difficult time flowing to and from the heart, causing a heart condition called atherosclerosis. The American Heart Association defines atherosclerosis as, “the process of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium and fibrin (a clotting material in the blood) building up in the inner lining of an artery.”

High-Density Lipoproteins (HDLs)

According to the American Heart Association, about one-fourth to one-third of all cholesterol in the blood is “good” cholesterol. High levels of this type of cholesterol have proven to prevent heart disease and heart attacks in many cases. This is likely because HDLs carry cholesterol away from artery walls and back to the liver where it can be destroyed.

So, how does one decrease the negative effects of LDLs and increase the positive effects of HDLs?

Tips to lower bad cholesterol (from the American Heart Association and U.S. News &amp World Report):

    • Eat Well: “Christopher Gardner, a researcher at Stanford University who specializes in nutrition, a varied diet that emphasizes plants, fish, legumes, whole grains, and fruits is significantly better at lowering problematic cholesterol than a more conventional diet of prepared foods equally low in saturated fats and cholesterol.” (American Heart Association)
    • Exercise: A regular regiment of aerobic exercise (long in duration, low in activity) shows significant increases in HDL (good cholesterol) after about 12 weeks, a small price to pay for long-lasting cardiovascular health.
    • Know Your Fats: Limit your total fat intake to less than 25-35% of your total calories each day. Lower your saturated fat intake as it raises your LDL levels, and replace those fats with monosaturated fats, often found in nuts, fish, and seeds, which have been shown to decrease LDL levels.

Keep an eye on your cholesterol levels; no one needs the blood highways of the human body to have a traffic jam.


About Mackenzie

Mackenzie is a lover of world travel, photography, design, style and Chinese cooking. She is passionate about working towards a purpose, recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Media and Marketing, and is currently residing in Manhattan.

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