HDL or LDL? What's The Difference Between HDL and LDL?

In various media forms today, we often hear a lot about cholesterol. The terms HDL and LDL are commonly used, but embarrassingly, most people really do not know the difference. Cholesterol is one of the natural substances found in the body that has certain vital functions to perform like:

  • The Building of cell membranes
  • Maintenance of fluidity of these cell membranes
  • Metabolizing the fat soluble vitamins of type A, D, E and K
  • Production of bile for proper digestion of fat
  • Base material for many hormones
  • Basic component of the nervous system

The cholesterol that is found in your body is either the LDL type or the HDL type. In the medical community, LDL cholesterol is considered "bad" cholesterol while HDL is considered as the "good" form of cholesterol. Surprisingly, there are really no two separate forms of cholesterol. The cholesterol itself is the same for both types. The cholesterol type is determined by the way and direction in which it travels in the blood stream.

So What's The Difference?

Cholesterol is a blood soluble component and is packed inside a chemical product called lipo-proteins. This packed cholesterol is taken to various places inside your body through the blood stream. The LDL, or "bad," cholesterol is taken by the Low Density Lipo-protein (LDL). This low density lipo-protein usually takes the cholesterol to the tissues of the body. These tissues include the arms of the heart. This often leads to the build up of plaque inside your arteries and minor capillaries hampering the ability of blood flow. This poses a greater risk of heart related diseases. Therefore, LDL is described as the "bad" form of cholesterol.

On the other hand, cholesterol can also travel by the High Density Lipo-protein (HDL). This takes the cholesterol deposited in tissues of the body, including the arteries, to the liver where it is broken down and deposited from your body properly. Thus, the HDL cholesterol is considered the "good" form of cholesterol because it reduces the chance of plaque buildup in your arteries thusby reducing the chance of heart failure and other coronary heart diseases.

So, for a healthy heart, it is always necessary that the level of the "bad" cholesterol be below 100mg / dl and "good" cholesterol be higher than 40 mg / dl. Another way to check the healthy level of cholesterol in your body is to maintain the ratio of LDL: HDL at 3: 1. When you do this, you can take care of your heart. Free from life threatening heart conditions.