❓ What Is HDL & Why It’s Called Good Cholesterol? (2024)

"YES - I Want Healthy Cholesterol Levels"

Today’s question is from Rose and she asks:

“What exactly is HDL cholesterol and why does my doctor want this cholesterol to be HIGH? I thought cholesterol was bad and it needs to be low?”

This is a great question, Rose. First, cholesterol is NOT “bad”.

Cholesterol is very important in the creation of cell walls, hormones, and digestive juices.

hdl_heart

Cholesterol is also needed to improve your mood and a positive sense of well-being.

This is why cholesterol-lowering statin drugs have so many negative side effects because they lower cholesterol too low.

In fact, having “low” cholesterol levels can be just as bad as having “high” cholesterol.

HDL & LDL Cholesterol – The Difference

Your HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is considered the “good” cholesterol because it can help decrease the cholesterol buildup in the walls of your arteries, which causes the narrowing of their openings.HDL_good_cholesterol

While LDL (low-density lipoprotein), is considered the “bad” cholesterol because when your LDL level is high, it can start to form a plaque-like substance on the walls of your cardiovascular system (arteries and veins), blocking the natural flow of blood and leaving you at severe risk for a heart attack and stroke.

The “good” HDL basically helps clean up your “bad” LDL

HDL (Good) Cholesterol Level HDL Cholesterol Category
Less than 40 mg/dL A major risk factor for heart disease
40 — 59 mg/dL The higher, the better
60 mg/dL and above Considered protective against heart disease

Generally speaking, the higher your HDL, the better.

An easy way to remember this is to think of the “L” in LDL as LOW and the “H” in HDL as HIGH  – thus, your goal is to have lower LDL and higher HDL.

For example, after giving my mom some specific herbs, I was able to raise her “good” HDL from 52 mg/dL to 94 mg/dL.

Her cardiologist and I are very happy because sometimes my mom’s TOTAL cholesterol goes in the “borderline high” range (200-239 mg/dL).

However, we’re okay with that because her “good” HDL is so high and thus, very protective.