Good vs Bad Cholesterol: How to achieve optimal levels

When it comes to good vs bad cholesterol, there are many misconceptions. Cholesterol is a chemical compound, fat-like substance, which is essential for all mammals, including humans.

It is used to produce hormones, bile acids, vitamin D and cell membranes. Our body produces 80 % of cholesterol, mainly liver, while the rest comes from diet. Main dietary sources of cholesterol are meat, fish, poultry, egg yolks and dairy products.

There are several types of cholesterol: HDL, LDL and VLDL or very low density lipoprotein. We are going to talk about HDL and LDL cholesterol since they are most significant, besides total cholesterol and triglycerides.

Cholesterol has immense effect on the heart and blood vessels. Optimal HDL to LDL ratio, significantly decreases the chances of heart disease and heart attack. To know how high or how low is your risk of heart disease, you have to know where are your cholesterol and triglycerides values at, as well as how to prepare for the test.


HDL or high-density lipoprotein is known as good cholesterol since it works as cholesterol scavenger. It removes cholesterol from the arteries and transports it to the liver, where it is broken down and recycled or excreted from the body.

It also seems that HDL cholesterol prevents or at least slows down build-up of plaque, inside the arteries. Scientist belive that by doing so, HDL protects us from atherosclerosis thereby reducing the risk of  heart disease as well as heart attack and stroke.

Hormones and hormone based drugs such as steroids also have an effect on cholesterol levels. Estrogen may increase HDL because of which premenopausal women generally have higher HDL cholesterol than men do, according to scientists. 


LDL or low-density lipoprotein is known as bad cholesterol but in some way, it is misunderstood. High levels of LDL cholesterol are obviously, bad since LDL can cause build of plaque which can lead to blood clots, atherosclerosis and heart attack.

On the other hand, if our own body produces small amounts of LDL cholesterol, then it ain't that bad, right. It is like saturated fat. In right amounts, it is actually good for us. We just need to find the right balance. Good example are side effects associated with the use of statins and too low cholesterol. Statins are also known as cholesterol lowering drugs.

Interestingly, saturated fat raises LDL, so right amount of saturated fat equals right amounts of LDL cholesterol in the blood, as it seems. The point is LDL cholesterol ain't that bad as it seems to be, you just need to watch out for your intake of animal products as they are the richest source of saturated fats which raises LDL cholesterol.


Total cholesterol is measurement of your HDL and LDL cholesterol as well as other lipids, circulating in the blood. It is a good indicator of possible heart disease, stroke and heart attack.

Even more important than total cholesterol values, is HDL to LDL ratio. Optimal HDL to LDL ratio should be between 0,3 and 0,6 while ideal number is around 0,45. It is calculated by dividing the HDL with LDL cholesterol.

If the number is higher than 0,6 or lower than 0,3 it is very likely that LDL is too high, HDL too low or both. On the other hand, LDL cholesterol can also be too low which has happened to me but it is less common.

For example, Phytosterols rich foods can have immense positive impact on your cholesterol levels.


Triglycerides are basically fats and the more fatty, starchy and sugary foods you eat, the more you have it circulating in the blood. Body uses triglycerides as a source of energy, for nutrient storage and maintenance of your growth, immune function and cell reproduction.

Liver can produce triglycerides as needed, same as cholesterol. Any more of that, is stored as fat. This is usually the consequence that comes from overindulging in food and alcohol.

It is very simple. If you consume 3000 calories per day and on that given day your body requires only 2000 calories, then the rest of 1000 calories is stored as fat, mostly in form of triglycerides. Triglycerides levels are also very easy to lower down since they are used as a source of energy.

To achieve this, eat healthy, exercise regulary and burn more calories than you consume. High triglycerides levels have been linked to atherosclerosis, heart disease, stroke and pancreatitis.

NOTE: High triglycerides levels usually go "hand in hand" with high LDL cholesterol.


When it comes to good vs bad cholesterol, in order to achive optimal values as well as HDL to LDL ratio, diet is the most important factor. Adding exercise to your regiment will also speed up the process.

If you need to reduce high cholesterol and triglycerides, you can consider certan herbs, supplements, and fiber rich foods to help you lower cholesterol levels faster and thereby move away from the "danger zone".

On the other hand, if your cholesterol and triglycerides fall more or less inside normal values, then just eating good foods and exercising is more than enough for you.


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