HDL Vs LDL: Differences Worth Knowing

Cholesterol may be dangerous if it gets high, however it is also necessary for our body to function properly. Our body makes use of cholesterol so as to make hormones and vitamin D and it also supports digestion. Cholesterol is made from the liver. However foods like meat, dairy and poultry also have enough cholesterol. So, our cholesterol level goes high when we eat lots of these foods containing cholesterol.


HDL Vs LDL: Differences Worth Knowing

Molecules called lipoproteins actually carry cholesterol in the blood. There are two primary kinds of lipoprotein namely the HDL and LDL. Here, HDL is the high density lipoprotein and LDL is the low density lipoprotein. However while checking HDL and LDL, doctors often include one more type of fat known as triglycerides.

Let us know about few differences between HDL and LDL in this article.

HDL Vs LDL: Basic Difference

HDL is known as the “good cholesterol” because having a higher level of this can reduce the risk of heart disease and also stroke. HDL cholesterol absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to our liver, which flushes it from the body.

However LDL is known as “Bad cholesterol” because having high levels of LDL lead to plaque buildup in your arteries and can result in stroke and heart diseases. LDL makes majority of body’s cholesterol.

HDL unlike, LDL hangs on tightly to the cholesterol it carries and would not let it get loose to attach to arterial walls. In some cases, it may also snatch up additional cholesterol already stuck to a wall and thus may reduce the size of a plaque or a buildup.

HDL Vs LDL: Difference Based on their Structure

The main structural difference between HDL and LDL is their compositions. HDL particles consist of 20% of cholesterol and 50% of protein; while the LDL particles contain 50% of cholesterol and only 25% of the proteins.

As protein is more dense than fat; HDL are more dense that the LDL particles. Thus HDL are known as high density lipoproteins and LDL are low density lipoproteins.
HDL contains mostly A-I and A-II proteins while LDL contain B-100 proteins.

HDL Vs LDL: Difference Based on Functions

Though HDL and LDL both transport cholesterol in the blood, there is a major functional difference between the two and that is they both deliver cholesterol to different body parts. HDL transport cholesterol away from your heart and other organs and deliver it back to your liver and where it gets passed out from the body.

However, LDL are the primary carriers of cholesterol which bring cholesterol to cells all throughout your body and can cause a buildup of cholesterol within your arteries which may eventually lead to increased risk of heart disease and heart stroke.

HDL Vs LDL: Difference Based on Factors

Some factors that affect your HDL and LDL levels are uncontrollable which include the family history, age etc. However there are also some factors which can be controlled. For example, exercising at least for 30 minutes most days of the week can aid you to increase your HDL and reduce your LDL levels. Similarly, reducing the saturated fats, cholesterol, trans fat in your diet can aid you in lowering your LDL levels. Adding diet such as fresh fruits, whole grains, vegetables, legumes, seeds and nuts, low fat dairy products etc can also aid you in decreasing LDL levels.

HDL Vs LDL: Differences Based on the Causes

As per reports, smokers have lower HDL cholesterol than nonsmokers. Research shows quitting smoking may increase HDL.

However, unmanaged stress may lead to increased LDL and total cholesterol. This may be because unmanaged stress can lead to overeating fatty foods, increased smoking and inactive life. In some cases, high LDL is also inherited. This condition is known as FH or Familial hypercholesterolemia.

HDL Vs LDL: Diet Impact

Foods that increase HDL and reduce total cholesterol of the body include a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains; baked or grilled fatty fish like tuna, salmon etc; skinless poultry, lean red meat, vegetable and olive oils, unsalted seeds, legumes, nuts etc.

However, foods that may increase LDL cholesterol include untrimmed red meat, full fat dairy products, fried foods bakes goods made with trans fats or saturated fats, tropical oils, foods with hydrogenated oils etc.

HDL Vs LDL: Differences Based on their Effects on Health

Higher the HDL level in your blood, the lower are your chance of getting heart disease. However, higher the level of LDL cholesterol in your blood, the greater is your chance of getting coronary heart disease.

Coronary heart disease is a condition where plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries and which in turn limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. This in turn can cause a rupture in an area of plaque which may further cause the formation of blood clot on the plaque surface. If blood clot gets large enough, it can completely block the flow of blood via a coronary artery. If the oxygen-rich blood flow to your heart muscle gets reduced or blocked, a heart attack may occur.

HDL Vs LDL: Differences on Recommended Range

The recommended range for HDL or good cholesterol is 1.55 mmol/L and above; while for LDL or bad cholesterol, the recommended range is 2.6mmol/L or lower.
As per The American Heart Association, HDL cholesterol for men should be at least 40 milligrams/deciliter of blood and for women it should be 50 milligrams/deciliter of blood. HDL levels of 60 milligrams/deciliter for men and women may help in protecting against heart disease. However, optimal levels of LDL cholesterol are less than 100 milligrams per deciliter of blood.

Was this article helpful?

Yes No

Suggestions to Improve the Article

This article contains incorrect information.

This article does not have the information I am looking for.

I Have a Medical Question.

Ask A Doctor Now

If you are facing a medical emergency, call your local emergency services immediately, or visit the nearest ER or urgent care facility

Suggestions to Improve the Article


How Did This Article Help?

This Article Did Change My Life!

I Have a Medical Question.

Ask A Doctor Now

If you are facing a medical emergency, call your local emergency services immediately, or visit the nearest ER or urgent care facility

Thank you for your feedback.