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Healtheuniversity > English > Diabetes College > Eat Healthy > Cholesterol and Triglycerides > Cholesterol

Cholesterol

Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is often called 'bad' cholesterol.

  • Having high levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood can cause heart attack or stroke.
  • Reduce the amount of foods you eat that contain saturated and trans fats to keep your LDL cholesterol low.

High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is often called 'good' cholesterol.

  • HDL cholesterol helps carry LDL (bad) cholesterol away from the walls of your blood vessels.
  • Eat more unsaturated fats to help increase your HDL levels (to greater than 1.0 mmol/L).

People living with diabetes often have high cholesterol. Both diabetes and high cholesterol put you at risk for heart disease.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a wax-like substance found in your body.

Your body needs cholesterol to:

  • make vitamin D
  • make bile (a fluid made by the liver to help break down fats)
  • make male and female hormones (testosterone and estrogen)
  • keep your cell membranes (the wall that lines the cells in your body) healthy

Your liver makes most of the cholesterol in your body. The rest comes from the animal products you eat. Only animal products have cholesterol. Animal products include meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.

Types of cholesterol in the blood

There are two main types of cholesterol.

Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol

What is LDL cholesterol?

LDL cholesterol is often called 'bad' cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is a problem when levels get too high in your blood.

  • When LDL (bad) cholesterol gets too high, it can slowly collect as plaque on the walls of your blood vessels.
  • If too much plaque collects, the plaque narrows or blocks your blood vessel. This block prevents blood from getting to your heart or brain.
  • When blood cannot get to your heart or brain, you can have a heart attack or stroke.

Reduce the amount of foods you eat that contain saturated and trans fats to keep your LDL cholesterol low.

What is the healthy target for my LDL cholesterol level?

Your LDL (bad) cholesterol level is measured from a blood test. A healthy target for your LDL (bad) cholesterol level is less than 2.0 mmol/L.

What foods increase my LDL cholesterol?

Foods high in trans fat and saturated fat increase your LDL (bad) cholesterol level. Trans fats are found in commercially prepared (factory-made) or processed foods and saturated fats are found mostly in animal foods.

Find out more about trans fats »

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High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol

What is HDL cholesterol?

HDL cholesterol is often called 'good' cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps carry LDL (bad) cholesterol away from the walls of your blood vessels.

What is the healthy target for my HDL cholesterol level?

Your HDL cholesterol level is measured using a blood test. A healthy target for your HDL cholesterol level is greater than 1.0 mmol/L.

What foods increase my HDL cholesterol level?

Foods that have unsaturated fats (such as omega-3 fats) that come from fish can increase your HDL (good) cholesterol level.

Find out more about unsaturated fats »

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Last Reviewed: 10/16/2016