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What is lipids function? What mean LDL, HDL, VLDL?

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Organic chemical compounds that are an integral part of the human body and are ingested daily with food of animal or plant origin, are lipids.

Fats introduced into the body through food are resorbed through the mucous membrane of the small intestine and reach the bloodstream through the lymph vessels and are thus distributed throughout the body. In that way, they reach the smallest blood vessels and capillaries and decompose in them.

Triglycerides are released from these fat particles and go to the fat tissue and muscles. The rest of these particles, which contain significant amounts of cholesterol, go to the liver. As lipids are insoluble in water, in order to be able to dissolve in the blood, they bind to proteins in the liver and thus form fractions of lipoproteins called LDL, HDL, and VDL. So, in the post that follows, you will learn what is lipids function, and what these abbreviations mean.

Here are some quick links to what we’ll cover in this article. If you’re in hurry, or for any other reason, feel free to use the quick links to jump straight to the section you want to read:

What do lipids are consist of?

Fatty acids are an integral part of all complex lipids. They can be saturated and unsaturated. Unsaturated can be monounsaturated polyunsaturated. Some are created by the human body, and those that do not create, but must be ingested through food are called essential fatty acids.

good and bad cholesterol illustrationSaturated ones do not have the possibility of reaction with free radicals for oxidation. They are found in foods of animal origin: meat, lard, butter, cheese, and all dairy products.
Monounsaturated are so-called because they contain only one unsaturated place in their chemical chain, which can react with a free radical. They are found in olive oil, but also in other vegetable oils.

Polyunsaturated oxides are the easiest to oxidize because in their chemical structure they have more free unsaturated places to react with free radicals. These are fats of plant origin, and this includes two essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega 6. They are found in corn, soybean, and sunflower oil, as well as in fish (sardines, mackerel, and other bluefish).

blood vessel with cholesterol illustration

Cholesterol plays the most important role of all lipids. It is an integral part of all cells of the human body, it is found in cell membranes, sex hormones, adrenal glands, vitamin D, bile acids. Most, about two-thirds, are created by the body itself, and only one-third of cholesterol is ingested through food.

Therefore, it is necessary for every cell in the body, and its harmful effect is manifested when it is present in the blood in significantly smaller quantities than is normal, and therefore, it has the greatest impact on the development of atherosclerosis.

Find out what are the best and proven tips, and also the best diet in our post about lowering high cholesterol values.


They are part of adipose tissue (about 95%), while insignificant amounts are present in the bloodstream. Special forms of oxygen, known as free radicals, collide in the blood with the fat molecules of LDL cholesterol, oxidizing them.

These toxic oxidized radicals penetrate the walls of the arteries and destroy them. This can be prevented by eating foods that contain anti-oxidants. This actually means that the key to preventing high bad cholesterol is to take the right amount of antioxidants on a regular basis.

bad and good cholesterol function illustrationIn the development of atherosclerotic changes in the body, the ratio of good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol is very important. Let’s first, as we promised at the beginning, clarify what each of them represents.

Bad cholesterol (LDL – Low-Density Lipoprotein), easily penetrates the walls of blood vessels and poses a great danger of coronary heart disease.

Good cholesterol (HDL – High-Density Lipoprotein) has a protective effect on blood vessels, more precisely a protective function because it takes over excess cholesterol from cells and returns it to the liver for further processing, in fact, clears bad cholesterol from blood vessels.

VLDL (Very Low-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol is mentioned during a routine cholesterol screening, and there’s no simple, direct way to measure it, which is why VLDL is usually estimated as a percentage of triglyceride value. An elevated level is more than 30 milligrams per deciliter (0.77 millimole/liter).  So, the best way to lower it is to lower your triglycerides.

cholesterol level table

Division of lipoproteins

According to the amount of cholesterol, triglycerides, and proteins found in their molecules, lipoproteins are divided into several groups.
In practice, the Fredrickson classification from 1967 is used, which was somewhat modified by the WHO. There are 6 types in that classification, which are marked with Roman numerals from 1 to 5 (from I to V), with type II being divided into types IIa and IIb.

Type I – is a rare disorder, which occurs due to a lack of the enzyme lipase. It is manifested mainly on the skin due to the deposition of fat (xanthelasmas). In this type, triglyceride levels are elevated and lead to early atherosclerosis.

cholesterol blocking artery

Type IIa – this type contains the highest amounts of cholesterol in the blood. The risk of these patients with coronary heart disease is as much as 25 times higher than in healthy people of the same age; it usually occurs in the forties.

Laboratory analysis indicates extremely high LDL values, HDL is lowered, and triglyceride values ​​are in the normal range. In these people, there is often deposition of cholesterol in the skin in the form of nodules and on the eyelids, as well as clouding of the ring shape around the cornea.

Type IIb – here, in addition to the increase in total cholesterol, there is also a moderate increase in triglycerides. LDL is elevated and HDL is generally lowered. People of this type are obese and often suffer from diabetes.

Type III – a rare form, mainly a consequence of inherited traits. Cholesterol and triglycerides are equally elevated in this type. Atherosclerotic changes occur in the blood vessels of the legs.

Type IV – familial triglyceridemia, a more common disease in men. Partly because of heredity, and much more often because of unhealthy and incomplete nutrition. It is enough to reduce the amount of sugar in the diet as well as to normalize body weight. This disease mainly occurs in middle age, people are often obese and suffer from diabetes. In them, triglycerides are markedly increased, cholesterol is normal or slightly elevated, and HDL is markedly reduced.

Type V – better known as secondary hyperlipoproteinemia. In this type, the level of glucose in the blood is very high, so diseases such as reduced thyroid function, obstructive jaundice, and nephrotic syndrome (kidney disease) often occur.

Impact of physical activity

senior people running togetherPhysical activity causes various biochemical changes in the body.

One study compared the values ​​of marathon runners and those who did not move much, and it was shown that the values ​​of good (HDL) cholesterol were significantly higher in runners, and total cholesterol was significantly lower compared to people who were physically inactive.

On the other hand, in people who do not move, the level of cholesterol increases dramatically, so the danger is higher for heart patients. When exercising, the most important thing is their frequency, not the intensity.

So, the recipe for “getting” good (HDL) cholesterol is pretty clear: more movement, exercise, walking, cycling, avoiding fatty foods, and using vegetable oils.

Dietary nutrition

This is the first and basic principle in the treatment of hyperlipidemia, and it aims to limit the total fat intake and reduce saturated, and increase the intake of unsaturated fatty acids.

In addition to fats, other dietary factors, such as carbohydrates or alcohol, also affect the increase in blood lipids.

fish oil

Fish oil plays a very important role in the fight against heart disease in 10 ways:
1. Prevents platelets from sticking together
2. Reduces narrowing of blood vessels
3. Increases blood flow
4. Lowers fibrinogen (a protein produced in the liver)
5. Enhances the dissolution of clots (Highly effective foods in this process are hot peppers, black mushrooms, cloves, ginger, blueberries, grapefruit, garlic, and onions)
6. It disables the action of free radicals
7. Lowers triglycerides
8. Raises the level of good (HDL) cholesterol
9. Lowers blood pressure
10. Makes cell membranes elastic

The European Society of Cardiology proposes the following:

1. Energy intake from food should ensure the maintenance of normal body weight
2. Fat intake up to 30% of total energy, where fats rich in saturated fatty acids participate with 10%, and the rest should be divided by fats containing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids
3. Cholesterol ingested with food should not exceed 300 mg per day on average
4. Control the intake of simple sugars, no more than 10% of the total carbohydrate intake, which means that complex carbohydrates are desirable in the diet and should make up 44 to 45% of the total intake.

It is recommended to eat foods rich in starch and fiber (soluble) such as:

fiber rich food

* Beans
* Carrots
* Lentils
* Soybeans
* Brussels sprout
* Peas
* Oat bran and flakes
* Garlic and onions
* Whole grains
* Hazelnuts
* Almonds
* Oranges
* Apricots
* Apples (in addition to fiber, they also contain pectin)
* Lemon peel

Triglyceride advice

In hyperlipoproteinemias dominated by triglycerides, it is important to reduce carbohydrate intake. Moreover, it is more important to limit the intake of concentrated carbohydrates and reduce the total intake of food, than to reduce the intake of fats and cholesterol, because carbohydrates are the source substance from which triglycerides are formed in the liver.

It is also important to eliminate refined sugar and refined flour, dried fruit, fruit juices, jam and honey, excessive alcohol intake, and finally reduce obesity.
Tea can have a very effective antithrombotic effect, as well as spices: cloves, ginger, cumin.

11 general instructions for the end

1. It is necessary to follow the dietary instructions for life
2. The success of treatment depends primarily on proper nutrition
3. Maintain body weight within normal limits and check it once every two to three weeks
4. Daily physical activity (brisk walking, running, swimming)
5. Limit salt intake
6. Alcohol and smoking are not allowed
7. Cook the vegetables and finally add the oil. Once used, the oil must not be reused
8. Smaller amounts of meat, and twice a week replace the meal with sea or river fish, and one amount of meat with soy
9. Increase the intake of dietary fiber (beans, peas, wholemeal bread, bran, apples, kale, celery, cucumber)
10. Get used to unsweetened foods
11. As much salad with a little oil

If there is no success even after 3 to 6 months of proper nutrition (diet) and physical activity, drug therapy is applied, especially if there is a relatively clear clinical picture that the hyperlipidemia is in an advanced stage, and risk factors are present.

That’s it!

We hope this post helped you learn what are lipids, what they consist of, what their role and function are, and how they are divided.

We think that it would be very important for you to look at our texts on lowering high cholesterol, as well as treating diabetes, all in a natural way. Because their impact on heart health is huge.

And if you are looking for more ways to improve your heart health, you should check our other great Majota Blog posts.

Also, if you have any questions or feel that there is some other important lipids function we have not listed, feel free to leave a comment, it will mean a lot to us and we will be grateful for it.

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