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Bad cholesterol and good cholesterol: What are they, Differences, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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Learn What are, Differences, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment of bad Cholesterol and good cholesterol to avoid the development of cardiovascular diseases and to know how to increase your good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol.

Does bad and good cholesterol really exist? What is called good cholesterol since it is called bad or high cholesterol? Find out What are lipoproteins, What is the function of cholesterol in your body and Who suffer from High Cholesterol.

Learn how bad and good cholesterol is detected, what are the consequences of having high cholesterol and what is the natural treatment to lower blood cholesterol.

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1. What are lipoproteins?

Lipoproteins are compounds made up of proteins and lipids, one of its functions being the transport of cholesterol throughout the body.

Depending on the type of lipoprotein that transports cholesterol, it takes the name of good cholesterol or bad cholesterol.

Nowadays it is questioning if there really is good and bad cholesterol, cholesterol is only one, since the name of bad or good is given by the protein (lipoprotein) that transports it.

It is called good because it transports cholesterol to the liver and bad because it accumulates cholesterol in the arteries, however, cholesterol is one and the differentiation is given for a better understanding of the community in general.

It is important to mention that the body itself through the liver and other specialized cells produce 80% of cholesterol and the other 20% is provided by food.

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2. What is Good Cholesterol?

Also known as high-density lipoprotein or HDL, it is the one that transports “good” cholesterol, which is responsible for eliminating excess bad cholesterol, keeping the walls of the arteries clean and in good condition.

Normal HDL levels in women is between 60 to 40 mg / dL. (3. 4)

3. What is Bad or High Cholesterol?

Known as low-density lipoprotein or LDL, it transports “bad” cholesterol, its excess can accumulate on the walls of the arteries, forming plaques, bringing consequences such as:

Heart attacks, atherosclerosis, or other conditions in the body. In women it is important to keep their levels below 100 mg / dL.

4. Differences between Good and Bad Cholesterol

Differences between Good Cholesterol and Bad Cholesterol
Good Cholesterol Bad Cholesterol
Good cholesterol was called HDL. Bad cholesterol called LDL.
Helps prevent arteries from becoming clogged. It causes a build-up in the arteries that can lead to a blockage and a heart attack or stroke.
Protects against heart disease. It causes heart disease.
Good level:

  • 60 mg / dl or more
Good level:

  • below 100 mg / dl for diabetics
  • below 130 mg / dl for non-diabetic people.

5. Cholesterol function

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Cholesterol has four very vital functions in our body:

  • It is part of the structure of each cell wall in our body, which allows it to act as a protective barrier. In turn, the cholesterol present in the cell structure allows energy to be produced and metabolized.
  • It is part of the composition of bile acids, which help to digest and metabolize fats properly.
  • Cholesterol is part of the biochemical process related to the production of vitamin D.
  • It stimulates the production of a good part of hormones such as progesterone, estrogens, testosterone, cortisol, and aldosterone, which regulate functions related to bone health, weight control, digestion, among others.

(*) Total cholesterol measured in blood is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol in the blood, including good and bad.

6. Causes of Increased Bad Cholesterol

6.1. Excessive fat intake

There are two types of fats that contribute to raising this type of cholesterol.
Saturated fats found in foods of animal origin such as meats, egg yolks and dairy products.
Its detrimental effects are increased if both meats and eggs are consumed fried.
Trans fats: Trans fats are those hydrogenated vegetable oils. This type of fat increases the levels of bad cholesterol and decreases the good.
They are found in fried foods with this type of oil, processed foods such as fried snacks: potato chips, nachos, fried sweet potatoes, fried plantains, among others.
And also in foods such as butter, margarine, packaged cookies, packaged pancakes, among others.

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6.2. Lack of Physical Activity

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute indicates that the absence of an exercise or physical activity routine contributes to overweight and obesity. In these types of people, bad cholesterol levels rise and good cholesterol levels decrease.

6.3. Presence of Diseases

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Liver and kidney diseases
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Hypothyroidism

7. Symptoms of Bad High Cholesterol

Generally high LDL levels have no apparent symptoms and signs, so many people ignore their cholesterol levels.

It is recommended that both men and women over the age of 20 undergo the relevant tests at least once a year to find out their blood cholesterol levels.

When cholesterol levels are greater than 500 mg/dl, it is called familial hypercholesterolemia, which presents symptoms such as:

  • Chest pain or other symptoms of coronary heart disease, which can occur at an early age.
  • Cramping in one or both calves when walking
  • Sudden stroke-like symptoms, such as trouble speaking, falling on one side of your face, weakness of an arm or leg, and loss of balance.
  • Presence of xanthomas, which are thick yellow spots around the eyes or skin, which are common in people with high levels of cholesterol due to hereditary causes.

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8. Who suffers from High Cholesterol?

People vulnerable to high cholesterol levels are those who have:

  • Frequent cigarette smoking
  • High blood pressure (greater than 140/90 mmHg.)
  • Low good cholesterol levels (less than 40 mg / dL)
  • A family history of hypercholesterolemia, this condition can run in families, leading to heart attacks at an early age.
  • Man over 30 years old.
  • Women over the age of 40, their LDL levels are slightly higher than that of men due to the hormonal change caused by menopause.
  • Overweight and obese people.

9. Diagnosis of Good and Bad Cholesterol

Good and bad cholesterol will be detected in:

Blood test: This is the case for the use of the middle range of total cholesterol and good cholesterol and bad cholesterol.

Normal cholesterol levels are measured according to sex and age, below is a table that helps you identify your normal level of good cholesterol and bad cholesterol:

Normal cholesterol levels according to sex and age
Age / Sex Total cholesterol Non-HDL cholesterol LDLBad Cholesterol HDLGood Cholesterol
Man or Woman under 19 years old ˃ 170 mg / dL ˃ 120 mg / dL ˃ 100 mg / dL ˂ 45 mg / dL
mens≤ 20 years 125 to 200 mg / dL ˃ 130 mg / dL ˃ 100 mg / dL ≤ 40 mg / dL
Women≤ 20 years 125 to 200 mg / dL ˃ 130 mg / dL ˃ 100 mg / dL ≤ 50 mg / dL

(*) Non-HDL cholesterol is the result of subtracting HDL levels from total cholesterol levels.

In turn, the doctor may request other laboratory tests if high cholesterol is suspected to be associated with other medical conditions, such as:

  • Thyroid hormone levels, to rule out hypothyroidism.
  • Total tests for testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and pelvic ultrasound to rule out polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Skin biopsy to help rule out inflammatory diseases like psoriasis.

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10. Consequences of high cholesterol

The consequences of having high levels of bad cholesterol are generally accompanied by other diseases such as those mentioned above, bringing as consequences:

  • Myocardial infarctions
  • Stroke
  • Arterial diseases like atherosclerosis.
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Gallstones
  • Memory-related diseases

11. Cholesterol Medications and Side Effects

A study by Ph. D. Beatrice Golomb showed that the consumption of statins has serious consequences on our health such as memory loss, neurodegenerative diseases, and they affect the function of the pancreas, liver.

Click here to see the full list and specific side effects of each cholesterol-lowering medication.

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12. Natural Treatment to lower Cholesterol

Once your doctor has diagnosed you with high cholesterol, it is important to make an immediate change in your diet and physical activity.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that a diet rich in saturated fat and carbohydrates increases the risk of atherosclerosis and ischemic heart disease, diseases related to high cholesterol levels.

At the same time, the consumption of refined carbohydrates increases metabolic damage in sedentary populations.

On the other hand, it is important to provide beneficial nutrients for cholesterol reduction such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats according to the needs of your body.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that a diet with a good supply of monounsaturated fats reduces levels of bad blood cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

There is scientific evidence that polyunsaturated fats have significant effects in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, lowering high cholesterol levels, acting at the level of blood vessels and blood.

This is shown by a study published by the scientific journal Experimental and Clinical Cardiology. (12)

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that serum concentrations of beta-carotene and vitamin C are directly related to the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

These vitamins are important for the reduction of cholesterol and the development of diseases such as atherosclerosis. This information is corroborated by a study published by the European Journal of Public Health.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted by the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that consuming large amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans), nuts and seeds.

It is linked to lower risks of contracting diseases related to high cholesterol levels such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

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