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Lorraine Heyward asked...

I've heard there are good and bad cholesterols?

I've heard there are good and bad cholesterols – what does this mean?

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The answer

Fortunately, these days, most people know about cholesterol and that high levels of cholesterol are bad for your heart. However, doctors have now discovered that it’s a bit more complicated than that. There are several different types of cholesterol, but the two main ones are LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is ‘bad’ – the higher the levels in your bloodstream, the higher your risk of heart attack and stroke. HDL cholesterol is ‘good’ – it protects your heart by reducing the chance of cholesterol plaques on your arteries from rupturing and causing blockage of an artery. The single best predictor of your risk of heart disease is the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol. If your ratio is above five, you are at significantly raised risk – the closer you can get this ratio of total to HDL cholesterol to three, the better. You can improve this ratio by improving your diet, losing weight and exercising.

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