Biology and You

You and Food

What are the “good” and “bad” cholesterols in humans?

According to our doctors, “good” and “bad” elements are in our bodies that can affect us—especially our circulatory system, or in other words, our heart. In particular, when too much LDL (or low-density lipoprotein, called the “bad” cholesterol) circulates in your blood, it can create a buildup of what is called plaque on the inner walls of the arteries that feed your heart and brain. This can, in turn, cause your arteries to narrow and become less flexible (in excess, such plaque buildup is called atherosclerosis). Another type of cholesterol is HDL (or high-density lipoprotein, called the “good” cholesterol), and it is thought to protect the body against heart attacks by carrying the cholesterol away from the arteries and to the liver, where it is passed from the body—and may even slow plaque buildup. Yet another player in your body’s cholesterol is Lp(a)—a genetic variation of LDL cholesterol. In particular, a high level of Lp(a) may be a high risk factor for the premature formation of fatty deposits in your arteries.


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