LDL cholesterol, aka low-density lipoprotein is known as “bad cholesterol”. LDL cholesterol is responsible for transporting cholesterol throughout the body.
An elevated level of LDL in the blood is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
LDL & your risk of heart disease
It is widely accepted that an elevated level of LDL cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease, however, it’s important to know that the size of the LDL particle has a significant impact on your overall risk of heart disease.
LDL cholesterol exists in two sizes. One type of LDL is large and fluffy in size, while the other is small and dense.
According to a number of research studies, small dense LDL particles are more dangerous when it comes to your risk of cardiovascular events, whereas large fluffy LDL may actually have a protective effect.
It has been hypothesized that the smaller particle-sized LDL is more dangerous due to the fact that it can take up more space. This theory is connected to triglycerides which we will talk about in awhile.
In a number of studies, it has been shown that high triglycerides are associated with a higher volume of smaller-sized LDL particles, whereas low triglycerides are associated with a lower number of larger-sized LDL particles.
Where does LDL cholesterol come from?
LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) is produced by the liver. LDL or bad cholesterol also comes from certain foods, particularly from foods that contain trans and saturated fats.
Trans fats are commonly contained in processed foods.
Saturated fats are commonly found in full fat dairy products, red meat, certain oils and traditional butter.
Some of the functions of LDL cholesterol include:
- LDL is responsible for the transportation and delivery of cholesterol to cells in the body.
- LDL makes up part of the cell membrane.
- LDL is used in the production and synthesis of steroid hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, cortisol and triiodothyronine (T3).
What are the symptoms of high LDL cholesterol?
There are no symptoms of high LDL cholesterol.
Like total cholesterol, if you do experience any symptoms of high LDL cholesterol, it will be because a prolonged period of LDL cholesterol has led to associated conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
High LDL levels in the blood may contribute to fatty build-ups in the arteries, in turn leading to a condition called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is described as a fatty buildup of plaque and therefore a narrowing of the arteries.