HDLs – LDLs What Does It All Mean?

If you are at all conscious about your health you realize that it is very important to have regular physical exams. During this procedure your blood is drawn and then after a day or two you are given information about things like HDL’s and LDL’s.

But what do these numbers represent? What do they mean?

HDL = High Density Lipid

LDL = Low Density Lipid

Know this. HDL is the good lipid and LDL is the bad one.

HDLs actually help sweep away plaque that forms on your arteries. LDLs can’t do this because they are not dense enough to have this effect.

So in other words you want to have a high HDL count and a low LDL count in order to be proactively working against heart disease.

The American Heart Association states that it is desirable for your total cholesterol level to be 200mg/dL or less.

When you break it down you want your HDL level to be in the 40 – 50 mg/dL level for men and 50 – 60 mg/dL level for women. An HDL cholesterol of 60mg/dL or higher gives some protection against heart disease.

LDL cholesterol levels are considered optimal when they are less than 100 mg/dL.


So when should you be checked? The AHA recommends that when you turn 20 you should begin having your blood checked regularly.

As always exercise and diet are your best weapons against a high cholesterol count.

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3 Responses to “HDLs – LDLs What Does It All Mean?”

  1. Evan Says:

    Great way to explain the complexities of what cholesterol is all about – but genetic factors play a huge role too – exercise and low fat, high (lean) protein diet with plenty of vegetables still can’t obliterate inheritance factors. Despite the remarkable prowess of some athletes – a high inherited cholesterol also needs to be modified with either vitamins or cholesterol lowering medications. If this had been known 30 years ago, Jim Fixx might still be alive. The American Academy of Pediatrics is now asking fora first cholesterol screening around age 12 to be even more proactive. Hey – cholesterol is also the key ingredient of the entire hormone system, supplying thyroid hormone, estrogen, testosterone, pituitary hormone, etc. so we do need some of it – but in moderation!

  2. Marcia Reynolds, past chair of the CLC Says:

    I have very high HDL, but also high LDL. I’ve been told the HDL cancels out the LDL since it is so high. What are your thoughts?

  3. Evan Says:

    I don’t know if the high HDL exactly cancels out the high LDL (and just how high is the LDL?) but it modifies it – and add to the picture estrogen as a further protective factor, and you’re probably pretty darn safe! (Also, how high are the triglycerides?) Nowadays we have to take all the test results – and recognize that life-style plays a very major component of overall health – as being part of the whole picture. And it’s also becoming clear to me, that Western Medicine has become so split off into sub-specialities that each expert in a field begins to treat numbers rather than utilizing holistic approaches. I know cardiologists who in their attempts to treat high blood pressure, drop their patients’ pressures with medication until they’re fainting all over the place! Or using lipid lowering medications that can cause muscle damage in the attempt to achieve the perfect numbers. Exercise, healthy foods and an optimistic view on life are the best ingredients we have so far for longevity. Sorry for the “longevity” of this comment!

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