High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) carries about one-third to one-fourth of the blood cholesterol in the body. Lipoproteins move cholesterol, triglycerides and other blood fats (lipds) to various tissues.
HDL cholesterol is known as "good cholesterol" because it is believed that HDL cholesterol carries chlesterol back from the arteries, to the liver, where it is either excreted or re-used. As a result, HDL is responsible for removing excess cholesterol from atheromatous plaques (accumulations and swellings within the artery walls), thus slowing their growth.
Theories suggest that higher HDL choelsterol levels (above 60mg/dL) reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, while lower HDL cholesterol levels (less than 40 mg/dL in men; less than 50 mg/dL in women) show a greater risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Some people experience higher HDL (good) cholesterol levels when they perform regular physical activity. Regular physical activity also controls weight, diabetes, and high blood pressure which will also help to reduce your risk for heart disease. Moderate to intense physical activity, performed regularly (with your doctor's approval) conditions your lungs and heart. Brisk walking, jogging, or swimming are examples of this type of physical activity. Daily moderate intensity activities reduce your risk of heart disease, such as gardening, walking, yard work, housework, and dancing, for example.
For HDL (good) cholesterol, the higher the level, the better. HDL cholesterol levels of 60 and above are best, while levels of 40 or below is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. HDL is usually tested as part of an overall profile, along with trigylcerides and LDL.