HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is considered to be the good cholesterol. It's called "high-density" because it has a high amount of protein and not very much fat. The HDL molecules find excess cholesterol in the blood stream and carry it back to the liver for disposal. This is why it is good. If HDL levels are too low, it means there aren't enough around to carry away excess cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol is the bad cholesterol; it's "low density" because it has a low amount of protein and a lot of fat. The LDL molecules carry cholesterol from the liver to the other parts of the body, and if there are too many of them, they store the cholesterol and fat in various arteries throughout the body. When there is too much of it, it constantly builds up in the walls of your arteries until a blockage occurs. This is why it is bad. If LDL levels are too high, it means that too much cholesterol is being transported and deposited in your arteries, and you will be at risk for heart disease.

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