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Healthy, Fit & Fabulous: Ask The Dr. ~ Good vs. Bad Cholesterol

Healthy, Fit & Fabulous: Ask The Dr. ~ Good vs. Bad Cholesterol

Q: “What is the difference between good and bad cholesterol?”

– Tawny R.

“Bad” cholesterol or Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) is comprised of mostly fat with only a small amount of protein. High levels will build up on artery walls, putting you at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Desirable levels are less than 100 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter).

Good cholesterol or High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) is comprised of more protein than fat. It helps to clear the bad cholesterol from the blood so it does not clog your arteries. Desirable levels are greater than 40 mg/dL for men and more than 50 mg/dL for women.

What raises “bad” cholesterol?
Cholesterol in foods may raise “bad” cholesterol, but foods high in saturated fats and trans fats have a greater impact on raising “bad” cholesterol. Foods that contain cholesterol include meats, egg yolks, dairy products, fish and poultry. Foods that contain saturated fats include fatty meats, whole milk, cream, ice cream, whole milk cheeses, butter and lard, as well as palm and coconut oils. Foods that contain trans fats are packaged or processed foods and fried foods such as cookies, chips, cakes, French fries, fried onion rings, doughnuts.

A sedentary lifestyle can also contribute to higher levels of “bad” cholesterol.

How can you improve your cholesterol levels?
Replacing saturated fats and trans fats in your diet with monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can improve cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber has also been proven to lower cholesterol levels.

Foods that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats include olive oil, canola oil, nuts, flaxseeds, fish and avocados. Foods that contain soluble fiber include fruit, oats, barley, beans and peas.

Physical activity has shown to have a positive impact on cholesterol levels. Even low intensity exercise, such as walking 30 minutes a day, can aid in lowering cholesterol.

Dr. Garry Kim
is a physician who specializes in weight loss and nutrition. After winning his own personal battle with obesity, Dr. Kim founded American Weight Loss Centers. He has maintained his weight loss for more than 15 years and uses his own experience to support others in their personal health & fitness journeys. His medical weight loss centers offer access to a FDA approved weight loss program, safe appetite suppressants and medical weight loss clinics. For more information and to learn about medical weight loss programs, visit