Cholesterol can’t move around in the bloodstream on its own and is transported in the blood by little ‘couriers’ called lipoproteins. There are two major types of lipoproteins, namely high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). High levels of HDL are considered good for you, whereas high levels of LDL aren’t so good and can result in future health problems.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – carries most of the cholesterol that is delivered to cells. It is called the ‘bad’ cholesterol because when its level in the bloodstream is high, it can clog up your arteries.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – is called the ‘good’ cholesterol, because it helps remove excess cholesterol out of the cells and takes it back to the liver where it can be broken down and excreted.
Health authorities recommend that total cholesterol levels should be no higher than 5.5 mmol per litre if there are no other risk factors present. If there are other cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure or pre-existing/hereditary cardiovascular (heart) disease, then the aim for total cholesterol is to be below 4 mmol/L and for the LDL levels to be less than 2 mmol/L.
You will need a doctor to perform a blood test to check your levels as high cholesterol doesn’t usually make you feel sick and rarely presents with any symptoms.