Photography by: George Doyle
HOW LIPOPROTEINS WORK
Cholesterol is produced by the liver and found in all animal foods. After it’s made in your body or absorbed from the food you eat, it’s carried through the bloodstream by particles known as lipoproteins, which are also produced in the liver. Made up of fat and protein, these lipoproteins make it easier for cholesterol to travel through your veins and arteries. The two types of lipoproteins most associated with blood-cholesterol levels are LDLs and HDLs. LDLs (low-density lipoproteins) contain a higher proportion of fat. As they travel through your veins and arteries, LDLs can stick to blood vessel walls and, over time, accumulate and form hardened plaque. This plaque then builds up on itself, narrowing these passageways and reducing the flow of blood to your heart. This process, known as atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, can cause a blockage in the arteries that lead to your heart and can result in a heart attack. Blockage in a blood vessel leading to your brain can cause a stroke. As a result, LDLs are known as the “bad” form of cholesterol. HDLs (high-density lipoproteins) contain a higher proportion of protein to fat. Their job is to carry cholesterol away from the heart and out of the body. The higher the HDL levels in your blood, the lower your risk of dying from heart disease. Experts believe that a high HDL level can protect you even if you have elevated total and LDL-cholesterol levels. HDLs have thus been dubbed the “good” cholesterol.