What Does Low Good Cholesterol Mean to Your Health?
FAQs - Did You Know? Health
April 4, 2022

What is Low Good Cholesterol

It’s not uncommon to come back from your doctor’s office with the news that you have low good cholesterol levels.  But what does that mean? After all, we’re often told that having high levels of cholesterol are terrible for our health, so how is it that we could find out that they’re too low? Is that not the goal? Let’s take a closer look at what this is all about and what it means to your health.

Is Low Good Cholesterol What You Want?

Having low cholesterol on the whole is a good thing.  That is, you want your total levels to measure under 200mg/dL and the LDL form should be under 100 mg/dL.  That said, then there is the HDL, which is actually a beneficial form when it’s kept within a certain range. This means that it shouldn’t be too high, nor should it be under about 60 mg/dL.

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If you’re confused, don’t be concerned. It can definitely seem confusing when you first start to hear about all these facts and figures. This is particularly true when the vocabulary, numbers, and abbreviations all seem to fly in the face of everything you thought you’d figured out until this point.

Still, since high and low bad and good cholesterol do have an impact on your health and longevity, it’s worth taking a closer look at what it can do and what you can do to ensure your levels are where they should be.

The Risk of High Bad and Low Good Cholesterol

Both high bad (LDL) and low good (HDL) cholesterol levels are to be avoided.  All forms of this substance impact our heart and organ health. The numbers your doctor keeps in your chart are maintained for a reason.

Among the primary reasons that having low good cholesterol levels is unwanted is that it opens the door for high bad cholesterol levels.  Unfortunately, over 1 in 3 adult Americans currently have high total levels, doubling their risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

What Can You Do?

If your doctor is talking to you about lowering your cholesterol levels, it’s nearly always in reference to your LDL (bad) form.  When it is too high, that is what boosts your heart disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and degenerative neurological disease risk.  By lowering that number, you can help to improve your wellness and long-term health.

On the other hand, if you have been told that you have low good cholesterol (HDL) you should still take that seriously and follow your doctor’s recommendations to boost your numbers so avoid letting your LDL move in.

What is HDL?

HDL stands for high-density lipoproteins.  In your body, they collect excess LDL from your bloodstream and transport it to the liver. In the liver, the LDL is broken down. Without enough HDL, not enough of your LDL is collected and broken down. This is why having low good cholesterol can cause your bad levels to rise.

Though increasing your HDL levels won’t be enough to remedy very high LDL levels, it can make a difference.

To bring your HDL levels to where they should be, one of the steps your doctor is likely to recommend is that you lose excess body weight. If you’re overweight, losing even a few pounds can help your body to naturally raise your HDL score to the level of 60 mg/dL or more.  For every 6 pounds of lost body weight, low good cholesterol levels will often measurably improve – usually by 1 mg/dL.

Other steps you can take include:

  • Regular moderate to vigorous activity
  • Quit smoking
  • Keep up overall healthy lifestyle habits
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