Equip yourself. Learn about VLDL.

VLDL (very-low-density lipoprotein)

VLDL is a common acronym used for a kind of cholesterol known as very-low-density lipoprotein. You may have already heard of LDL (sometimes called the "bad cholesterol") and HDL (likewise often referred to as the "good cholesterol"). VLDL is not as commonly referenced, however. It isn't necessarily included in a normal cholesterol test, known as a complete lipid profile.

What is VLDL, and what does it do?

Along with HDL, LDL, IDL, and chylomicrons, VLDL is a type of lipoprotein that allows for cholesterol and fat to move around in the water base of a person's blood. While in the bloodstream, it is converted to another form of cholesterol: LDL. Initially, it is formed out of cholesterol, triglycerides, and apolipoproteins. This process takes place in the liver of the individual.

What does VLDL become?

During circulation, VLDL can undergo changes and turn into other forms of cholesterol. What is initially called the nascent form of this lipoprotein takes some items from HDL and becomes mature. Later on, they can turn into IDL as enough triglycerides are taken away from them by lipoprotein lipase (known as LPL). Through endocytosis, cells in the liver absorb roughly 50 percent of these new IDL. As for the rest, they lose their apolipoprotein E (apoE), which was one thing they picked up from the HDL. Once their triglyceride content loses its majority to that of cholesterol, then these lipoproteins turn into LDL.

Is a high VLDL level healthy or unhealthy?

VLDL contains a high amount of triglycerides. Elevated levels of these in the bloodstream have been linked to hardening of the patient's arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. As mentioned earlier, VLDL can also turn into LDL. High levels of LDL are considered to promote heart disease, as well as other medical problems. Therefore, based on these reasons alone, it is likely that high VLDL cholesterol levels are unhealthy rather than healthy. Instead of trying to increase its count, work to raise HDL naturally, through means like aerobic exercise, cutting trans fat out of the diet, losing weight if overweight, and including more soluble fiber in the diet. Higher HDL levels have been linked to less cases of cardiovascular disease.