Cholesterol says a lot about our health, but surprisingly few people know it well enough. What is the difference between LDL and HDL cholesterol? How can you measure cholesterol? What are normal levels and how can you lower cholesterol?

We'll answer these questions and help you take better care of your health.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a necessary component of our cell membrane, the outer covering of our cells, and is therefore a vital natural substance of our body. In addition, cholesterol also contributes to many metabolic processes such as the production of hormones. Cholesterol is chemically grouped into lipids (fats) and is often referred to generically as "blood fat".

The body produces most of the cholesterol it needs in the liver, but it is also obtained from food. The body tries to actively regulate the body's own production and intake from food, but an incorrect diet can throw the cholesterol level out of balance and lead to an associated increased risk of circulatory disorders.

What are the risks of high cholesterol?

If the body stores too much cholesterol in the wrong place, for example due to improper nutrition, this can have a negative effect on health in the long term. Accumulation of cholesterol in the blood or in the muscle layer of the vessel walls can lead to arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). This increases the risk of circulatory disorders and can thus lead to stroke or heart attack.

How is cholesterol transported inside of the body?

Because cholesterol is insoluble in water, the body creates a combination of proteins, fats (lipids) and other components in the liver in order to be able to transport cholesterol in the watery blood. These packages are called lipoproteins after their components. These are mainly divided into the following groups.

LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein): "bad cholesterol"

This type is a low-density lipoprotein and transports cholesterol from the liver to other cell tissues in the body. A high value is harmful to health and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, since the excess cholesterol is built into the muscle layer of the vessel walls, among other things.

HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein): "good cholesterol"

This type is a high-density lipoprotein and transports cholesterol from tissues back to the liver. The higher the HDL cholesterol level, the more cholesterol is transported back to the liver, so high HDL cholesterol levels are usually desirable. However, very high HDL cholesterol values should also be avoided, as there is a risk of vascular occlusion even with extremely high values.

Together, LDL and HDL make up total cholesterol, which is sometimes used as a cut-off for cholesterol.

LDL and HDL cholesterol

Cholesterol measurement and evaluation

The cholesterol content can be determined by a blood test by a specialist. Depending on the evaluation, you will receive either the total, LDL and/or HDL cholesterol value.

Here you can find out in which unit cholesterol is given and what the limit values are.

Learn more

Cholesterol measures and diet

Your lifestyle plays an important role in cholesterol levels. Similar to blood pressure values, a healthy and balanced diet and sufficient exercise can have a positive effect on cholesterol levels.

Learn more