Cholesterol travels by means of the blood attached to a protein. This cholesterol-protein package is known as a lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are classified as high density, low density, or very low density, depending on how much protein there exists in relation to fat.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) can also be referred to as “bad” cholesterol since it is proven to increase arterial disease. LDL is nearly purely cholesterol, and transports to the tissues that will need them. This kind of cholesterol comes largely from the foods we eat, most especially animal fats. Your body truly doesn’t have any use for LDL so it just ends up clogging the arteries, thereby leading to the development of various heart diseases.
When there is too much LDL inside the blood, it can become a part of a thick, hard layer on the inside of your arteries known as plaque. When the arteries inside the heart narrow because of plaque build-up, there is often a decrease in blood flow. The blood carries oxygen and when there is less blood flow, there is certainly less oxygen carried to the tissues of your body. If the blood flow inside the heart gets blocked totally, the shortage of oxygen can cause a heart attack.
The same can happen with the arteries that feed blood to the brain. When they become blocked, the lack of oxygen inside the brain causes a stroke. Keeping the LDL level as low as possible is the key to preventing heart attack and stroke. The more LDL there is inside the blood, the greater the risk of heart disease.
HDL (high density lipoprotein) can also be known as “good” cholesterol since it is thought to protect against arterial disease. It makes easy the removal of deleterious LDL and VLDL by transporting them out from the blood. So, the higher the HDL levels as well as the lower the LDL level a person has, the lower the risk of developing heart diseases. If your levels of HDL are lower, your risk of heart disease increases.
Nonetheless, after travelling by means of the blood, HDL returns to the liver and is converted into LDL. HDL is largely protein and is considered “good” since it picks up the additional cholesterol that was dropped off by the LDLs and brings them back to the liver. This way, the liver can repackage it to use later, or basically get rid of it.
VLDL and Triglycerides
There is another kind of bad cholesterol known as the VLDL, or very low density lipoprotein. VLDL is similar to LDL cholesterol in that it includes largely fat and not a lot of protein. It has the highest amount of triglycerides, which are the principal storage form of fat in your body. Triglycerides are another kind of fat that’s carried inside the blood by very low density lipoproteins. Excess calories, alcohol or sugar in your body are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells throughout your body. They’re found in dairy items, cooking oils, and red meat.
Like LDL, VLDL cholesterol can also be associated with coronary heart disease. The VLDL, while circulating, loses some of its triglycerides to the fat depots and is eventually converted into LDL. VLDL is largely cholesterol and triglycerides, and its principal function is to transport triglycerides to the cells that need them.