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What Is the ‘Good’ Cholesterol Called?

They have similar names but affect the body very differently

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One of the best things you can do for your heart health is monitor your cholesterol. However, when your doctor checks your cholesterol levels, they’re actually measuring two types of cholesterol in your body. You might have heard the two types of cholesterol referred to as “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol — but what’s the difference?

Unexpected Signs of an Unhealthy Heart

Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol to and from cells. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is the “bad” cholesterol, and it makes up the majority of your body’s cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol cause fatty buildups that narrow the arteries, raising your risk for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease, or PAD. 

High-density lipoproteins, or HDL, are “good” cholesterol, meaning higher levels of this cholesterol are actually better. HDL absorbs cholesterol and carries it away from the arteries and back to the liver, which then flushes it from the body. However, HDL can only carry about one-third to one-fourth of blood cholesterol. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart attack, stroke and heart disease.


The American Heart Association recommends that adults have their cholesterol checked every four to six years starting at age 20. Getting regular checkups and cholesterol screenings are just two of the best things you can do for your heart, according to cardiologists.