You may have read about LDL cholesterol being ‘bad’ cholesterol, and if you have performed a cholesterol test, such as DocHQ’s Cholesterol Check, you’ll have received your LDL reading as part of the results.
LDL or, to give it its full title, low-density lipoprotein, is one way that cholesterol moves about in the bloodstream.
The human body requires LDL for many various functions, but often there’s too much for it to process. It’s at this point that excess LDL is deposited in the walls of blood vessels as plaque, which can eventually narrow or block the vessel, eventually leading to a heart attack or stroke.
HDL – also known as ‘good’ cholesterol – can help, as it collects the cholesterol and transports it to the liver for disposal.
How does LDL get into your bloodstream in the first place?
When you eat food, enzymes in your intestines take the food apart, separating the fats into their component fatty acids. They are then reassembled into triglycerides (which are also measured as part of a cholesterol test). This means that post-meal or snack, triglyceride levels in your blood will be raised for several hours.
Once the lipoprotein carrying the triglyceride parts ways with it, it gets smaller and becomes LDL. If there are too many in your blood for your liver to process effectively, this is when the body can’t cope and they begin to stick to your artery lining. That is why the lower your LDL reading, the better.
How to reduce your LDL
You don’t know your cholesterol levels – including your LDL – until you test it, so the first step to empowering yourself to take charge of your cholesterol health is to do a cholesterol test, such as DocHQ’s Cholesterol Check.
If your LDL comes back as higher than it should be, this is where diet and exercise come in. Weight loss can help reduce your LDL levels, as well as increase the good HDL. Reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet can also help in lowering LDL, while increasing fruit, vegetables, fish and wholegrain consumption will help.
Importantly, by knowing your LDL result, you’ll be empowered to change your health outcomes for the better.