Lipids: What you must know
Many of you’re familiar with cholesterol. Some of you had already had your annual blood work to check the lipid profile. But what are the lipids and how do they affect us?
This is a question that I’d like to review in this article.
The origin of the word is from the Greek word lipos. Lipos means fat. When we talk about lipid profile it means actually fat profile.
Now, what are lipids?
Let’s find out more!
Lipids or fats are water insoluble entities that are required for the basic functions of our body, including energy and hormone production, bile acid formation and building new cells.
One of the most famous types of lipids is cholesterol and the other not so commonly known member of this family is a triglyceride.
Fats are one of the important sources of energy and are used to produce cell membranes and hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, vitamin D and many others.
What are lipoproteins?
I’ve mentioned previously that the lipids aren’t water soluble. For instance, if you add water to butter you’ll see that the fat remains separated and does not mix with the water itself, even if you keep mixing it. The same thing is true when we look at the relationship of the blood and fat.
Therefore, to be able to transfer lipids from one location to another one, the body will require water soluble protein covered entities which can haul the water insoluble fat.
These water soluble structures are called lipoproteins, I’d call them containers.
These containers carry fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides from one organ to another.
The commonly known lipoproteins include:
- Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
- High Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
- Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL)
- Intermediate Density Lipoprotein (IDL)
These entities are large boxes that transport the dietary fat, in other words, the fat that you eat each time is packed into these carriers and transported from the intestine to other parts of the body. Chylomicrons incorporate mostly triglycerides and only a small amount of cholesterol.
Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
LDL or commonly known “bad cholesterol” contains a larger amount of cholesterol and a small amount of triglycerides. This lipoproteins transport cholesterol from the liver to other organs and are used to produce bile acids in the liver and other hormones and cell membranes.
Individuals with high blood LDL-cholesterol levels are at elevated risk for having cardiovascular events.
High Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
HDL are commonly known as “good cholesterol”. The reason for that is that the HDL particles gather cholesterol from peripheral tissues and haul it back to the liver. They clean up the excess cholesterol from the body.
Therefore, having more HDL is better than less HDL. You can find out more about HDL by reading the following article “”.
These lipoproteins contain larger amounts of triglycerides (TGs) and are produced in the liver. VLDL is converted to LDL and is mainly involved in so-called diabetes dyslipidemia.
Diabetic patients usually have high levels of triglycerides, low levels of HDL-cholesterol and higher levels of small LDL-cholesterol.
Triglycerides make up the majority of ingested fats. It is well- known fact that an increased triglyceride level could reduce the blood HDL-cholesterol level.
TGs rich lipoproteins can result in elevated levels of inflammation and can be harmful to vascular health.
IDL is somehow between LDL and VLDL. IDL contains more proteins and cholesterols but fewer triglycerides than VLDL.
What part of your regular lipid profile is checked by your doctor?
At the end, let me also explain to you little more about the annual lipid profile.
The following values are included in you lipid profile:
Desirable range (mg/dl)
60 and higher
I believe that it is important that you are aware of your lipid or commonly known cholesterol profile. Based on your risk factors, this profile may need to be repeated on a regular basis.
The frequency of follow ups should be determined by a discussion with your physician. In most cases, this profile may need to be re-checked at least once a year.
Have you had your lipid profile checked recently? Do you know your numbers?
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