What is Cholesterol?

By: Jhude' Welch


  • Low Density Lipoproteins (bad- LDL) contribute to plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible.
  • Approximately 50 percent of the weight of an LDL particle is cholesterol and only 25 percent is protein.
  • It transports cholesterol to cells throughout your body where it can build up in your arteries.


  • High Density Lipoproteins (good- HDL) help remove LDL cholesterol from the arteries.
  • HDL consists of of 20 percent cholesterol by weight and 50 percent protein.
  • It carries cholesterol away from the heart and other organs to deliver it back to the your liver (where it is passed from your body.)


Why do doctors monitor the concentrations of LDL and HDL in patients' blood?
-They help doctors to evaluate a person's health status and to determine whether a person is at risk for cardiovascular disease.
How are the concentrations of HDL and LDL associated with the risk for heart disease and associated disorders?
-If LDL is high the risks are higher for cardiovascular disease but if HDL is high or higher the risk decreases.

Other molecules that are monitored in a patients blood include but are not limited to, triglycerides, blood sugar level, and total cholesterol.


LDL and HDL levels are two primary indicators of potential heart disease, using this guide will help you get a better understanding of your results:

Total blood cholesterol level:

High Risk: 240 mg/dL

Borderline High Risk: 200-239 mg/dL

Desirable: less than 200 mg/dL

LDL cholesterol levels:

190 mg/dL and above are high risk for heart disease and are strong indicators for lifestyle changes and a diet.

Guidelines recommend that if your LDL levels are equal to or less than 189 mg/dL than they should be lowered by 30% - 50%

HDL cholesterol levels:

High Risk: Less than 140 mg/dL

*remember having a high number of HDL is good*


Very High Risk: 500 mg/dL and above

High Risk: 200-499 mg/dL

Borderline High Risk: 150-199 mg/dL

Normal: less than 150 mg/dL

Healthy Living!

As a patient you can have a healthy diet with reduced fat and cholesterol to increase HDL levels and decrease LDL levels. Saturated fat intake should be limited 7% or less of total calories, cholesterol should be 200mg per day or less, and Omega 3 fatty acids will increase HDL levels. It has been found that physical activity can raise HDL levels 5%. The activity needs to be consistent with at least 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week. An estimated every six pounds that are lost can increase HDL by one and lower LDL by one. Medication can also be used with the other things above.


  • Unsaturated fats are called good fats because they can improve blood cholesterol levels, ease inflammation, stabilize heart rhythms, and play a number of other beneficial roles. Unsaturated fats are predominantly found in foods from plants, such as vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. They are liquids at room temperature.
  • These fats are solid at room temperature and are contained in food products like butter, shortening, or the fat on meat products. Some types of oils like palm kernel oil and coconut oil, contain saturated fat. Whole dairy foods also contain trans fats.
  • Trans fat is formed when hydrogen is added to vegetable oils, a process called hydrogenation which increases the shelf life and flavor of food containing these fats. Trans fats can be found in many types of pre-packaged items, like cookies, crackers and potato chips. Trans fats are also found in many fried foods such as french fries and doughnuts. Saturated fat and trans fat raise blood cholesterol levels increasing a person's risk of developing heart disease.