Cholesterol – The “Good” and the “Bad”

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all of the cells in your body. There’s lots of advice out there about lowering your cholesterol, leaving people to think that it’s all “bad.” Yet, some cholesterol is “good” and much needed to maintain your health. For instance, cholesterol is responsible for maintaining skin, developing hormones, and making vitamin D and substances that help you digest foods. Let’s explore what makes cholesterol “good” and “bad.”

“Good” and “Bad” Cholesterol

HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. It is called the “good” cholesterol because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Your liver then removes the cholesterol from your body.

LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. It is known as “bad” cholesterol because a high LDL level leads to the buildup of plaque in your arteries.

VLDL stands for very low-density lipoprotein. It is also “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to the buildup of plaque in your arteries. VLDL and LDL are different in that VLDL carries triglycerides and LDL carries cholesterol.

What if I Have High Levels of “Bad” Cholesterol?

An estimated 73 million American adults have high levels of “bad” cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To see whether your cholesterol levels are normal or if they are high, you should make an appointment with our office and get a physical, including a cholesterol test. If you do end up having high levels of LDL or VLDL, you can lower your cholesterol through heart-healthy lifestyle changes. They include a heart-healthy eating plan, weight management, and regular physical activity. If the lifestyle changes alone do not lower your cholesterol enough, you may also need to take medicine. We can help recommend steps you can take to get your cholesterol to a healthy level.

If you are due for a physical, including a cholesterol check, or if you feel sick and it’s not an emergency, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.