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The Difference Between Good and Bad Cholesterol

by: Stefan Simonovic

When talking about cholesterol, most people actually talk about bad cholesterol, which can contribute to a wide range of cardiovascular problems. However, we'd also like to shed light on the importance of good cholesterol, which our body actually needs for proper functioning. Although excess body weight is something most often associated with high cholesterol, we're not here to discuss the benefits of lowering bad cholesterol for the sake of looking physically fit or sexy and handsome like famous people on Snapchat. No. We’d like to focus purely on the health benefits we could all reap from keeping bad cholesterol at an optimum level.


Although cholesterol is often associated with excess body weight, it is actually different from fat because it isn’t stored in “problem” areas, such as the mid-section, but rather it circulates through the body. Carriers made of lipids and proteins, which are called lipoproteins, carry cholesterol through the bloodstream. Depending on the type of cholesterol, this can either be a good thing or a bad thing.

There are two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol. We have low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, which is the bad cholesterol, and we also have high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, which is the good cholesterol. LDL is called “bad” cholesterol because it leads to fatty buildup in arteries, which narrows them and can lead to a host of health problems, such as the risk of stroke, heart attack, and peripheral artery disease. On the other hand, HDL is called “good” cholesterol in part because higher levels of HDL in the body are healthy. Also, HDL carries LDL away from the arteries, thus preventing health risks.

A high level of HDL lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke, while a low level of HDL increases that risk. It's important to note that a healthy level of HDL doesn’t eliminate LDL as only one-forth to one-third of cholesterol is carried by HDL.

Tips to Lower Bad Cholesterol

Tips for lowering bad cholesterol are pretty straightforward as they include all those things necessary to stay healthy. At the same time, lowering bad cholesterol means increasing the level of HDL so the reason to follow these tips is at least two-fold. Here’s what you can do to lower bad cholesterol:
  • Eat healthy fats
  • Eliminate refined carbs and sugar from your diet
  • Don’t smoke
  • Lower alcohol consumption to a minimum
  • Decrease body weight
  • Exercise 3-4 times a week
A healthy diet plays a huge role in keeping bad cholesterol in check, and the single most important "food" that should be a staple in your diet is olive oil. The heart-friendly fat found in olive oil and olives increases the level of HDL and lowers LDL. Also, whole grains, beans and legumes are a great source of soluble fiber, which can reduce bad cholesterol. Other foods that should regularly be on the menu include high-fiber fruits, such as apples, pears, and prunes, and fatty fish thanks to its Omega-3 fatty acids. Last but not least, nuts, such as almonds, peanuts, and pistachios are rich in heart-friendly fats and should be eaten as snacks or incorporated into meals.

About the author:

Stefan is a writer and a blogger in his spare time. He also works for First Beat Media, a company that mainly focuses on the online dating niche and similar services.

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