What is HDL Cholesterol ?
HDL is one of the forms of cholesterol, commonly known as “the good cholesterol”, found in our blood. It stands for High Density Lipoprotein cholesterol. The body requires HDL cholesterol in high levels. Its level should at least be more than 40 mg/dL. Levels of HDL cholesterol above 60 mg/dL is very beneficial as it protects us against heart diseases. This article tries to answer the question what is HDL cholesterol.
What is HDL Cholesterol ?
Water is a major component of blood and cholesterol is slightly soluble in water. This is the reason why a substance called Lipoprotein is required in the body. It acts as the carrier of cholesterol in the blood. A Lipoprotein is less dense if it has more cholesterol and less protein within it.
Lipoproteins also have signals which are used to direct cholesterol to different types of the tissues. Based on the signals they produce and their density, Lipoproteins are classfied into certain types. They are chylomicrons, very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
Why HDL is the Good Cholesterol ?
Heart is the organ which pumps oxygen rich blood to the entire body. It receives used up blood from every corner of the body through its pathways called veins. Then this organ makes the blood rich in oxygen and pumps this blood back through the other pathway arteries.
High level of cholesterol beyond its permitted range, leads to blockage of the arteries. This blockage is created by cell debris called plaque. Heart has to work harder to pump blood to the entire body in the presence of plaque. It leads to exhaustion of this organ. Over time, as the pathways get completely closed, it leads to heart attack and other associated complications.
The name HDL means that the presence of cholesterol is less and proteins are more in this form of fat. When cholesterol level is low in the blood, the formation of cell debris in the arteries and veins of the heart is less. Some research studies have found that HDL cholesterol leads to regression of plaque formation in the arteries.
Apart from this, HDL transports excess fat or cholesterol back to the liver where it is produced. From liver, this excess fat is sent to other sites of requirement. One such process is production of vital hormones known as reverse cholesterol transport (RCT). Else the excess fat is safely excreted from the body. In this way, knowledge about questions like what is HDL cholesterol can improve the health of our heart.