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Difference between LDL and HDL

Cholesterol is necessary for our body to function properly. It is used by the body to produce hormones, vitamin D, aid digestion and more. The liver produces enough cholesterol required by our body to perform various vial functions. In addition to the Liver, our body also gets cholesterol from foods like meat, dairy and poultry. So, if someone eats a lot of these foods, his or her cholesterol level may rise beyond the normal level. The Cholesterol is categorized into two types: Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) and High-density Lipoprotein (HDL). Maintaining optimum levels of both LDL and HDL is good for health. Let us see how one differs from another!

First, let us understand, what a lipoprotein is!

Cholesterol is a fat molecule so it is not soluble in water and blood. It cannot move around in the bloodstream on its own. In order to travel in the body, it combines with a special protein. This combination of lipid and protein is known as lipoprotein. The protein actually coats the cholesterol to form lipoprotein. In the form of lipoprotein, cholesterol can move in the bloodstream and reach different parts of the body.

LDL (Low-density Lipoprotein):

LDL is known as "bad cholesterol" as it carries cholesterol to the arteries where it may be deposited within arterial walls. In other words, it deposits its cholesterol in the arteries. If cholesterol continues to be carried to the arteries, it may cause the buildup of plaque known as atherosclerosis. The plaque can suddenly rupture and the pieces may act as blood clots. If the clot is large, it can block blood flow in the coronary artery and cause a heart attack or stroke.

The plaque buildup may also reduce the blood flow and oxygen supply to major organs of the body. The reduced blood and oxygen supply may cause arterial diseases and kidney disorders in addition to a stroke or heart attack.

HDL (High-density Lipoprotein):

HDL is known as "good cholesterol" as it does not transport cholesterol to arteries on the contrary, it transports cholesterol to the liver to be expelled from your body. In other words, it helps your body to get rid of excess of cholesterol and reduces the chances of plaque buildup in the arteries. It tightly holds the cholesterol it carries and does not let it get loose to attach to the walls of arteries. It may even remove additional cholesterol already deposited within arterial walls thereby helps reduce the size of the plaque. Thus, HDL moves the cholesterol safely throughout the body without causing the plaque formation within the arteries.

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between LDL and HDL are as follows:

LDL ( Low-density Lipoprotein) HDL (High-density Lipoprotein)
It is usually referred to as "bad" cholesterol. It is usually referred to as "good" cholesterol.
It deposits cholesterol in the walls of arteries which leads to plaque formation. It does not deposit cholesterol in the walls of arteries.
The lower this number, the better. The higher this number, the better.
It promotes the plaque formation in the arteries. It helps remove some of the deposits in arteries thus helps reduce the size of the plaque.
It transports cholesterol to arteries and tissues. It transports cholesterol from arteries and tissues to the liver, ovaries, adrenal glands etc.
Its recommended level is less than 100mg/dL. The recommended level of HDL is 40 to 60 mg/dL.
Its sources include foods rich in trans fatty acids, white sugar, egg yolk, cream cheese, alcohol etc. Its sources include onions, omega-3 fatty acids, grains, oats, bran etc.
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