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HDL has been used when assessing our cholesterol for many years. HDL doesn’t refer to a kind of cholesterol, but rather, they are high density lipoproteins that remove cholesterol from our cells and artery walls and transport it through the blood stream to the liver so it can be excreted. This process has commonly coined the term “good cholesterol” because it helps to reduce inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular disease.
HDL, Keeping you Healthy
Throughout evolution, HDLs and the most common apolipoprotein they carry called apolipoprotein A-1 (apoA-1) have been highly conserved in many species, even ones who are not likely to develop diseases such as cardiovascular disease. This fact helps us to understand that HDLs ability to influence how much cholesterol is available at the cellular level shows HDLs connection to immune response, and hematopoietic stem cell maturation.
A healthy mature HDL not only has the ability to transport cholesterol for liver clearance, but also has antioxidant properties, and anti-inflammatory properties. During times of inflammation HDL levels can change drastically and undergo substantial changes in composition. This change in composition can lead to what is called acute phase-HDL which decreases cholesterol transport to the liver, antioxidant properties, and anti-inflammation properties. The change results in a reduced number of apoA-1 levels.
The decreased HDL levels leave the body more vulnerable to inflammatory stimuli. Uncontrolled inflammatory response can lead to intravascular coagulation, tissue damage and endotoxic shock. To help reduce such an extreme response, HDL changes the function of the different cells such as macrophages and lipid rafts. This gives us examples of how HDL may control the response time and inflammatory reactions to infection in the body, and how it protects the body from reacting too fast.
Keeping HDL HEalthy
To maintain healthy HDL levels and composition it starts with the diet. Eating whole foods and keeping a well-balanced diet is the key to maintaining healthy HDL composition and levels. When the choice is available choose movement. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Since HDLs are made in the liver and return to the liver, keeping the liver healthy will be a huge benefactor in keeping HDL healthy.