The Different Types of Cholesterol

three types of cholesterol

You know it is important to maintain your health. You exercise, you eat right -- or at least you try to! You want to eat foods that have low cholesterol in them instead of foods that have high cholesterol. Here is a way of understanding the different types of cholesterol. However, before you learn about the different types of cholesterol, you should learn about the nature of cholesterol itself.

The Different Types of Cholesterol

Nature of cholesterol

Cholesterol is not bed for you. Your body needs cholesterol to survive. Cholesterol is a soft waxy substance in every one of your body's cells. Without cholesterol, your body will not function. Think of your body as a hugely complex highway system, with the cells as towns or cities that are connected via this transportation system. Cholesterol is like a car that travels on the highways to the cities in your body. The only catch is that, like every car on a highway, your cholesterol must fit into the blood that is the road connecting the towns. Cholesterol is a fat, so it separates from blood. Proteins protect the cholesterol as it travels by creating a shell, called a cholesterol complex. So the cholesterol is actually the occupants of the car, while the car is the cholesterol complex.

Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL)

One type of cholesterol is low-density lipoprotein, also called LDL. This is the bad cholesterol, because if there is too much LDL in your bloodstream, it is as if your blood is filled with cars in a traffic jam. The cars have slowed nearly to a standstill in your bloodstream and this prevents the blood from flowing smoothly. If you have too much LDL, you have increased risk for heart disease.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL)

Another type of cholesterol is high-density lipoprotein, usually called HDL. In contrast to LDL, which is bad, HDL is good because it is like a car that flows smoothly through your blood, thus reducing the traffic jams that LDL cholesterol causes. You want to have high levels of HDL because that means you have a healthy heart. There is less cholesterol in your blood that attaches to blood vessels, causing plaque formation.

Very Low-density Lipoprotein (VLDL)

The third type of cholesterol is very low-density lipoprotein, also called VLDL. This type of cholesterol is a combination of cholesterol and triglycerides, so it is heavier than low-density lipoprotein, or LDL. VLDL is often associated with atherosclerosis and heart disease.

These are the three types of cholesterol. If you want to stay healthy, eat foods that are low in cholesterol so that your body has mainly HDL flowing through your blood vessels. You do not want cholesterol clogging your arteries. You should exercise regularly to keep your HDL count as high as possible.

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