Until recently, doctors have focused on the ratio of our good cholesterol (HDL) to our total cholesterol but today it is felt that a closer look at bad cholesterol (LDL) is our best management tool.
Total Cholesterol contains good cholesterol that protects our heart, known as High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) and bad cholesterol that is harmful to the heart, known as Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL).
Cholesterol, although a fat, is an essential nutrient for the body. It is made in the liver. The liver produces cholesterol in the necessary quantities for health. When the liver cannot efficiently dispose of the cholesterol excesses of a high fat diet, the excess cholesterol becomes bad cholesterol (LDL) and travels to the arteries of the heart and forms plaque. As the plaque accumulates, the walls of the arteries narrow and blood flow to the heart is restricted and is eventually blocked.
The theory that “a higher ratio of something good to something bad is always better” is especially true for a healthy heart. This new standard compares our bad cholesterol (LDL) to our good cholesterol (HDL), rather than our good cholesterol to our total cholesterol.
If you do not know your cholesterol numbers: total cholesterol, HDL and LDL, make an appointment with your physician and request his recommendations for cholesterol management.