HDL or the high-density lipoprotein cholesterol is commonly known as the good cholesterol. Why is it considered good? It is a good cholesterol mainly for the fact that it contradicts the adverse effects of bad cholesterol. Thus, the higher the level of your bad cholesterol, the higher the level your HDL cholesterol needs to have in order for it to work effectively against the bad cholesterol.

While extensive research has proven that good cholesterol helps in the prevention of heart disease, experts haven’t come up with the exact clinical value for the good cholesterol level to reduce the instances of heart attacks due to heart disease. They all agreed, however, that higher good cholesterol levels will be more efficient in cardiovascular protection. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends an HDL level to be above 40 mg/dL. An HDL level below that is considered a risk factor for heart disease such as atherosclerosis, characterized by the build-up of cholesterol on the walls of the arteries restricting the flow of blood resulting in strokes or heart attacks. An expert panel from the American Heart Association has found out that the good cholesterol level for women should be 50 mg/dL and above.

Good cholesterol is considered so for numerous reasons. The best asset it has is it’s being able to ‘reverse cholesterol transport’. The good cholesterol acts as a broom, removing the cholesterol that accumulated on the walls of the arteries and bringing it back to the liver for disposal through the gastrointestinal tract. Naturally, raising your good cholesterol level would mean decreasing the cholesterol build-up which decreases your chances of getting heart disease.

Coronary heart disease, which is the United States’ leading cause of death, is linked to a low HDL level. The increasing number of obese and diabetic patients also shows that the number of people with low levels of good cholesterol is increasing as well.

A patient with good HDL level problems may be put on a cholesterol management program which would include a lifestyle change. A new eating pattern may be suggested along with some constant physical activities as a means to decrease the bad cholesterol level. Some other things a patient must do to increase the good cholesterol level up to 15% to 20% is to stop smoking.

Understanding cholesterol shouldn’t be that difficult. Think of the good cholesterol as a superhero, tasked to eliminate the bad guys (bad cholesterol). The more superheroes, the lesser the bad guys; the lesser the bad guys, the safer we are and all’s well that ends well.

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