Cholesterol Craze

By: Camryn Gore

What is LDL and HDL?

Cholesterol is composed of three main substances: LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. Right now we will only be learning about LDL and HDL, but hold that thought we will get to triglycerides later. LDL stands for low density lipoprotein. LDL locates and transports cholesterol throughout the body. It is present because cholesterol cannot be dissolved. When cholesterol is detected in blood LDL is released into the bloodstream in an attempt to transport the cholesterol from the liver to tissues of the body where it is stored. HDL stands for high density lipoprotein. HDL searches the bloodstream for stray LDL because often when being transported LDL will build up along the walls of blood vessels, so HDL will remove the build up from the walls and transport it back to the liver where it can be reused.

Structure and Function

LDL and HDL are different structurally because the ratios of their contents are different. For example 50% the weight of an LDL particle is cholesterol and 25% of the weight is protein, while the weight of an HDL particle is 20% cholesterol and 50% protein. HDL particles are more dense than LDL particles because protein is more dense than fat. Functionally HDL and LDL are similar in that they both transport cholesterol in the blood, but the main difference is that they transport cholesterol to different parts of the body (LDL transports to cells and HDL transports to the liver).

One may ask, "Why do doctors monitor the concentrations of LDL and HDL in patients’ blood?" and, "How are the concentrations of LDL and HDL associated with the risk for heart disease and associated disorders?"

Doctors analyze this data to determine whether a patient is at risk for heart disease or not. The concentration of LDL is measured because too much of it in the bloodstream could lead to cholesterol plaques being formed in the arteries. Which then could result in atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis results in the arteries becoming more narrow which makes it harder for blood to be pumped through them which could eventually lead to stroke or heart attack.

Cholesterol Tests and Values

After going to the doctor and having a cholesterol test you will receive many groups of numbers. After taking your total blood cholesterol test the desirable range is less than 200 mg/dL and anything above 200 mg/dL could potentially be unsafe and unhealthy. Your LDL cholesterol level should be less than 100 mg/dL although between 100-129 mg/dL is nearly optimal, and anything above that becomes risky. Your HDL cholesterol level should be 60 mg/dL and above. For men anything lower than 40 mg/dL exhibits dangerous levels, and for women anything lower than 50 mg/dL is dangerous.


LDL and HDL are not the only molecules monitored in the blood; triglyceride is also monitored! Triglycerides are a type of fat found in cholesterol molecules within the bloodstream; having high levels of triglyceride will increase an individual's risk of heart disease. The optimal triglyceride level is less than 150 mg/dL anything higher increases the chance of receiving a heart disease.


Eating saturated fats and trans fats will raise LDL levels and also raise total cholesterol levels, so consequently not eating saturated and trans fats will lower LDL levels as well as lower the total cholesterol level. Although consuming trans fat is the most unhealthy because it sticks to the walls of blood vessels preventing adequate blood flow; the build up of this will eventually lead to heart attack.

How can you change your LDL and HDL levels?

There are five main ways to change you LDL and HDl and they are as follows.

1. Eat heart-healthy foods- Try to eliminate trans fat from your diet and instead eat foods that are full in omega-3 fatty acids. Keep your diet low in sodium and fats and increase your fruit and veggie intake.

2. Exercise- Everyday try to at least get 30 minutes of physical activity in.

3. Quit smoking- For all you college students that think it is cool to smoke knock it off! Within 20 minutes of quitting smoking your heart rate and blood pressure decrease.

4. Lose weight- Even carrying a few extra pounds will contribute to high cholesterol.

5. Drink alcohol in moderation- To all of you older college students that like to go out and party do not drink excessively! Your HDL and LDL levels will thank you later for it.

Works Cited

Huynh, Thi, Tram Vo, and Julia Vo. "What Is Cholesterol?" Google Sites. N.p., 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 6 Apr. 2016. <>. Kamps, Arielle. "How Do LDL and HDL Differ Structurally and Functionally?" SF Gate. Demand Media, n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2016. < ldl-hdl-differ-structurally-functionally-2003.html>. Mayo Clinic Staff. "Top 5 Lifestyle Changes to Improve Your Cholesterol." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 June 2015. Web. 6 Apr. 2016. <>.