What is LDL cholesterol?

Low density lipoprotein (LDL) or 'bad cholesterol' as it is probably more commonly referred to, tends to be the main area of focus when talking about cholesterol.

How is it made?

LDL is produced by the liver and forms part of total cholesterol.

What does it do?

It is the main protein that delivers cholesterol to where it is needed around the body. At the right level, its role is essential for healthy cell growth. However, when there is excess LDL it can cause clogging of the arteries - hence its bad reputation.

How to calculate your LDL?

When looking to calculate your LDL level think L = Low, you want to have low LDL levels as this means there's less chance of your arteries being blocked.

Ideally LDL levels should be less than 3mmol/L (millimole per litre) for healthy adults, and less than 2mmol/L in those who are at higher risk.

How to lower your LDL?

Often changes in diet, good levels of physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight is enough to keep your LDL levels within healthy limits.

Many also believe that limiting saturated fats in your diet plays a role in reducing LDL levels. However recent studies have called this traditional thinking into question.

Ensuring you are eating foods such as; oily fish, nuts, and vegetables along with having enough fibre in your diet will maintain your general cholesterol levels.

Some diets, such as The Mediterranean Diet, have shown to be very effective for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.

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Aisling Moran BSc (Hons)

Written by Aisling Moran BSc (Hons)

11th Aug 2021 • 2 min read