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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is the difference between good and bad cholesterol?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    Rebecca Charlotte Reynolds, PhD (Dr Bec) Personable and ethical registered nutritionist (RNutr) and lecturer at UNSW Australia in lifestyle and health. Regular consultant to the … View Profile

    High density lipoprotein (HDL) = good!
    Low density lipoprotein (LDL - various forms) = bad!

    See more here:

    :) Dr B

  • 2


    Nicole Senior

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    I'm an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist, consultant, author, speaker and food and health enthusiast. I love talking and writing about food and health.(please note, … View Profile

    LDL (bad) cholesterol is a transport molecule for cholesterol travelling away from the liver to the body, including blood vessel walls. LDL is the cholesterol that contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and increases the risk of a heart attack.
    HDL (good) cholesterol transports cholesterol from the body back to the liver for processing and having more HDL cholesterol is a good thing because it removes cholesterol from depositing on blood vessel walls. It also has anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic (reduced clotting) functions
    Nowadays, the risk of heart disease is best indicated by the Total Cholesterol: HDL cholesterol ratio which shows you which kind of cholesterol is winning the ‘balance of power’ in your body.
    In case you were wondering LDL stands for Low Density Lipoprotein and HDL stands for High Density Lipoprotein. Cholesterol is combined with protein for transport around the body.HDL is smaller and denser than LDL.
    You can increase good HDL levels by ensuring you maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, eat enough unsaturated (good) fats and ensure you choose quality carbohydrates (and not too much) such as wholegrain, high fibre and low GI foods. Small amounts of alcohol can also increase HDL but don't take up drinking just for this reason as alcohol carries other risks to health.

  • 1


    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    To add to Nicole's comments certain foods can have a profound impact on your blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fats and trans fats found in foods such as cakes, biscuits, fatty meats, takeaway meals (McDonalds, Hungry Jacks/ Burger King etc.) butter, coconut oil, party foods such as pies and sausage rolls can all increase the LDL (bad) cholesterol in your body.

    You can reduce your LDL cholesterol by eating a healthy diet of wholegrain breads and cereals, plenty of fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, nuts and seeds and fish. In fact fish contains Omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to not only to decrease LDL cholesterol but also triglycerides (storage form of fat in the body). whilst increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.

    Regular physical activity can also have an impact on your blood cholesterol levels (increasing HDL (good) cholesterol and decreasing LDL cholesterol).

    For more expert advice, consider a consultation with an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) who can help you make dietary changes to reduce your cholesterol and maintain a healthy diet for life.

  • 1


    Samantha Ling

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Samantha is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD), consultant and food and nutrition enthusiast. Samantha works in a private practice on the Central Coast, NSW, Rostant … View Profile

    I think Nicole has summed has summed up ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol beautifully! Just to add to both Nicole's and Chris's comments - lifestyle can definitely play an important role in regulating your bodys levels of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol.
    - Reducing your fat intake (particularly the bad fats known as saturated fat) will assist with lowering the'bad' cholesterol levels:
      * Swap to low fat dairy products (such as milk, yoghurt, cheese, etc)
      * As cheese is quite high in cholesterol, limit to 1-2 times a week'
      * Trim all visible fat off your meat and remove the skin on chicken
      * Choose lean meat varieties (NOT devon, sausages, frankfurts, salami, liverwurst etc)
      * Limit takeaway to 1-2 times a week
      * Swap butter for margarine
      * Limit the consumption of processed foods, such as biscuits, pastries, pies, sausage rolls, chips/crisps, chocolate etc

    - Increasing ‘good fats’ (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats) will help increase your ‘good’ cholesterol levels:
      * Enjoy fish, particularly oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackeral, sardines etc which are high in good fats at least 2 times a week (alternatively fish oil tablets can be taken - you need 3000mg everyday to get the benefits, which is normally around 3x 1000mg capsules)
      * Use olive oil or canola oil in cooking instead of vegetable oils or butter
      * Try a handful of nuts as a snack instead of crisps etc
      * Look for a breakfast cereal with flaxseed/linseed

    - Increasing your fibre intake (fibre competes with cholesterol for digestion) will assist with lowering your Total Cholesterol:
      * Enjoy 2 serves of fruit everyday (1 serve = 1 apple,1  banana, 1 orange,1 pear, 2 kiwifruit
      * Enjoy at least 5 serves of vegetables everyday (1 serve = 1 potato, 1/2 cup cooked
        vegetables, 1 cup salad etc)
      * Swap to wholegrain or wholemeal breads, cereals and pastas where possible
      * Enjoy Oats/Porridge in these colder months (full of beta-glucan which helps reduce

    - As Chris mentioned, Increasing your physical activity (exercise) will help increase the ‘good’ cholesterol

    For more information on ways to reduce your cholesterol it may be worthwhile seeing an Accredited Practicing Dietitian. Good luck!

    Samantha Ling
    Rostant Nutrition
    (Find us on facebook @

  • Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    Cholesterol can't dissolve in the blood. It has to be transported to and from the cells by carriers called lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is known as “bad” cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is known as “good” cholesterol. These two types of lipids, along with triglycerides and Lp(a) cholesterol, make up your total cholesterol count, which can be determined through a blood test. When too much LDL (bad) cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances, it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, heart attack or stroke can result. About one-fourth to one-third of blood cholesterol is carried by high-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL cholesterol is known as “good” cholesterol, because high levels of HDL seem to protect against heart attack. Low levels of HDL (less than 40 mg/dL for men and less than 50 mg/dL for women) also increase the risk of heart disease. Medical experts think that HDL tends to carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it's passed from the body. Some experts believe that HDL removes excess cholesterol from arterial plaque, slowing its buildup.
    Triglyceride is a form of fat made in the body. Elevated triglycerides can be due to overweight/obesity, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption and a diet very high in carbohydrates (60 percent of total calories or more). People with high triglycerides often have a high total cholesterol level, including a high LDL (bad) level and a low HDL (good) level. Many people with heart disease and/or diabetes also have high triglyceride levels.
    Lp(a) is a genetic variation of LDL (bad) cholesterol. A high level of Lp(a) is a significant risk factor for the premature development of fatty deposits in arteries. Lp(a) isn't fully understood, but it may interact with substances found in artery walls and contribute to the buildup of fatty deposits.

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