ZocdocAnswersWhy should I keep track of my LDL levels?

Question

Why should I keep track of my LDL levels?

Should I always know my last LDL levels? Does having low LDL levels mean I can eat a bit more unhealthy food than normal? I'm a 26 year old male who loves meat.

Answer

First, let me say a little about the “good” form of cholesterol, known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. HDL works in a number of ways, but importantly it helps transport other cholesterol particles from tissues and blood back to the liver, including helping to remove “bad” or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from plaques in arteries. High concentrations of LDL cholesterol are associated with increased plaque formation in the arteries, and it is these plaques that can narrow arteries or rupture and cause heart attacks and strokes. You are right to cut out a lot of meat, especially red or processed meat, but there are plenty of non-meat foods that you should also be careful of. In general saturated fat and cholesterol travel together; If your cholesterol is good, then I would not suggest increasing your consumption of unhealthy foods, rather you should continue your diet and continue to work to improve it. Studies have shown that reducing someone’s LDL cholesterol who has good cholesterol from 130 to 100 has the same relative benefit as reducing someone’s cholesterol who has bad cholesterol from 230 to 200. So even if your cholesterol is good you can still benefit by lowering it more. Your primary care physician can best discuss your results to help you meet your goals. Good luck!

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