Difference Between LDL and HDL

Main Difference – LDL vs HDL

The main difference between LDL and HDL cholesterol is that LDL, a type of low-density lipoprotein, is a harmful cholesterol type whereas HDL, a type of high-density lipoprotein, is a protective cholesterol type. There are many other differences between the two, but it’s important to know what is cholesterol before looking at these differences. 

This article explores,

1. What is Cholesterol?

2. What is LDL Cholesterol?

3. What is HDL Cholesterol?

4. Difference Between LDL and HDL Cholestrol

Difference Between LDL and HDL - LDL vs HDL Comparison Summary

What is Cholesterol

Hypercholesterolemia is a medical condition which we often come across in the modern community, mainly due to inappropriate and unhealthy lifestyle practices. Every year, more than millions of people develop these abnormalities of cholesterol levels, which often go undiagnosed due to lack of attention to one’s health and wellness.

Cholesterol plays a vital role in cellular metabolism as well as in producing essential substances in our body including Vitamin D, certain hormones, and bile. Too much cholesterol in the blood can increase the susceptibility to pathological conditions related to heart and blood vessels-cardiovascular diseases.

Cholesterol is insoluble in water and therefore transported in blood attached to a type of protein known as lipoproteins.

There are five major types of lipoprotein:

  • Chylomicrons
  • Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL)
  • Intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL)
  • LDL-low density lipoprotein (bad and unhealthy cholesterol)
  • HDL-high density lipoprotein (good and protective cholesterol)

What is LDL Cholesterol

LDL is a type of transporter lipoprotein which plays a central role in carrying cholesterol to places of metabolism via blood circulation.

Increased levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood are highly associated with a potential risk of atherosclerosis and several other cardiovascular diseases.

As far as the pathophysiology of hypercholesterolemia associated with elevated LDL levels is considered, there are LDL-C receptors on cell surfaces to which LDL-bound cholesterol gets attached. When these receptors are reduced due to reasons such as steatohepatitis and hypothyroidism, free LDL levels in the blood will go up, resulting in the elevation of free cholesterol in blood. This cholesterol can get attached to blood vessel walls or lodge inside the lumen of blood vessels, creating circulation disturbances potentially resulting in atherosclerosis, thrombosis or embolism.

Here is how laboratory reports calculate the total LDL level in your blood (mg)

LDL cholesterol = [Total cholesterol] – [HDL cholesterol] – [TriGlycerides]/5

How to Control High Cholesterol Levels

High cholesterol levels in blood can be controlled by,

  • Consuming a healthy diet rich in whole grain, oatmeals, leafy vegetables, fruits.
  • Cutting down excessive refined fats, modified carbohydrates and unsaturated oils.
  • Regular exercises
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce consumption of alcohol
  • Cholesterol lowering drugs-Statins, according to medical advice
    Main Difference - LDL vs HDL


What is HDL Cholesterol

This is a type of transporter lipoprotein which is made up of a microscopic blob with a lipoprotein rim and a cholesterol centre. Being known as a type of ‘good’ cholesterol, HDL owns lots of advantages which decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

  • Scavenging and removing LDL-cholesterol by re-using, recycling and re-processing them with the help of the liver.
  • Proper maintenance of the endothelium of blood vessels by scrubbing and cleaning cholesterol which is already attached to these walls.

A lipid profile will assess the levels of HDL-cholesterol in your blood – there should be more than 60mg/dl of HDL-cholesterol.

How to Achieve Healthy Levels pf HDL Cholesterol

Healthy levels of HDL-C can be achieved by,

  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Consuming food rich in omega 3 fatty acids
  • Cutting down unsaturated fats, modified carbohydrates and starch

Difference Between LDL and HDL

Difference Between LDL and HDL

Good vs Bad

LDL cholesterol is known to be a type of ‘bad’ cholesterol since it causes the formation of thick and hard plaques along blood vessel walls which can clog arteries, completely or partially, resulting in less flexible blood vessels.

On the other hand, HDL is a type of ‘good’ cholesterol which scavenges LDL and helps to recycle them in the liver, thus reducing the level of cholesterol in the blood.


As far as the structures of these two lipoproteins are considered,

LDL is a type of low-density lipoprotein.

HDL is a type of high-density lipoprotein.


Blood levels of both these lipoprotein types can be found out with the help of a lipid profile and treatments can be decided depending on what the abnormalities are.

Image Courtesy:

“Hdl1” By Rfch – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

“Atherosclerosis disease progression” By Npatchett – Created by uploading user in Gimp based on a public domain image created by the US federal government (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music