Parkview Health Logo

What is cholesterol?

Last Modified: January 01, 2014

Heart Health

There are two types of cholesterol: “good” high-density cholesterol and “bad” low-density cholesterol.

Too much of one and not enough of the other can put you at risk for heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.  Your body makes about 75 percent of the blood cholesterol in your body. The other 25 percent comes from the foods you eat. Cholesterol is only found in animal products.

Quick tip: If you have trouble remembering which is the good, and which is bad, cholesterol, keep this rule in mind:

  • H is for Healthy, as in HDL
  • L is for Lousy, as in LDL

High-density cholesterol (HDL)

HDL is “good” cholesterol. A healthy level of HDL may protect you from heart attack and stroke. Medical experts tend to think that HDL carries cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver where it is passed from the body.

  • Healthy level for men 40 mg/dL or higher
  • Healthy level for women 50 mg/dL or higher

Low-density cholesterol (LDL)

LDL is the “bad” cholesterol and is produced naturally by your body. When too much of it is in the blood, it can build up and clog arteries, which can cause heart attack or stroke. Your hereditary and saturated or trans fats in the food you eat can cause you to have high levels of LDL.

Help keep your cholesterol healthy with these five strategies:

  • Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while eating fewer high-fat foods, especially saturated and trans fats.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.  If you’re overweight, lose weight to lower LDL and raise HDL levels.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes, five days each week.
  • Know your numbers. Monitor your cholesterol values by getting blood tests, called a lipid profile, at age 21 and every five years after that.  Use Parkview MyChart to track and compare your numbers over time.

Interested in getting your cholesterol checked?

Ask your primary care physician for a lipid profile. They will give you the necessary paperwork and instructions to get your cholesterol checked at Parkview.   

Special events are scheduled periodically to provide discounted blood testing and other health screenings without a physician’s order. Such tests done without a physician’s order are typically out-of-pocket costs. Check back regularly to learn of upcoming events.


Related Blog Posts

View all posts