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Nutritional Wisdom

Posted: Wednesday, Nov 7th, 2012

Is higher ‘good cholesterol (HDL)’ really better?

We usually refer to LDL (low-density lipoprotein) as “bad cholesterol” and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) as “good cholesterol.” Observational studies, such as the Framingham Heart Study, have shown that low HDL is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Thus it is thought that raising HDL may reduce risk, but it’s not that simple.

Cholesterol is packaged into lipoproteins when circulated in the blood - LDL transports cholesterol to the cells, and HDL picks up excess cholesterol and delivers it back to the liver where it can be broken down. Theoretically, having more HDL would mean that more cholesterol would be disposed of, and as a result LDL would decrease, and therefore cardiovascular risk would decrease. So raising HDL when LDL is high would make sense, but what about raising HDL when LDL is not high? Would there be any benefit?

For the complete article see the 11-07-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-07-2012 paper.

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