‘Bad cholesterol’ also vital for health

‘Bad cholesterol’ also vital for health

Believe it or not, ‘bad cholesterol’, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL), is also vital for our well being.

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Published: Fri 6 May 2011, 1:15 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:39 AM

LDL is referred to as the ‘bad’ cholesterol because it tends to build up in the walls of arteries, slowing down blood flow which often leads to heart disease and heart attacks.

HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, usually called the ‘good cholesterol’, often helps remove ‘bad cholesterol’ from arteries.

According to a study led by Steve Riechman, professor at the Texas A&M University, LDL is not the villain it has been made out to be in recent years.

“You simply can’t remove all the ‘bad’ cholesterol from your body without serious problems occurring,” he said.

Riechman and colleagues examined 52 adults aged between 60 and 69 years, who were in good health but not physically active, and none of them were participating in a training programme, the Journal of Gerontology reports.

The study showed that after fairly vigorous workouts, participants who had gained the most muscle mass also had the highest levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, “a very unexpected result and one that surprised us”, said a statement from the university.

“It shows that you do need a certain amount of LDL to gain more muscle mass. There’s no doubt you need both - the LDL and the HDL - and the truth is, it (cholesterol) is all good,” said Riechman.

Cholesterol is found in all humans and is a type of fat around the body. A person’s total cholesterol level comprises both LDL and HDL cholesterol.

“LDL serves a very useful purpose. It acts as a warning sign that something is wrong and it signals the body to these warning signs. It does its job the way it is supposed to.

“People often say, ‘I want to get rid of all my bad (LDL) cholesterol,’ but the fact is, if you did so, you would die,” Riechman added.

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