Cardio Cleanse Education

What Is Non HDL Cholesterol?

Did you know that nearly 25 million adults have total cholesterol levels above 240 mg/dL in the US?

Cholesterol is a vital substance in the body. It helps your body make cell membranes and hormones. However, cholesterol imbalance can lead to cardiovascular diseases.

There are different types of cholesterol that can impact our well-being, including non-HDL cholesterol. But what is non-HDL cholesterol really? Keep reading to find out what non-HDL cholesterol is and ways you can maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Understanding Cholesterol

To comprehend non-HDL cholesterol, you must first grasp the basics of cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that travels through the blood on proteins. It helps build cells and makes vitamins and other hormones in your body.

Your liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs. But you can also get cholesterol in your body from animal foods. There are different types of cholesterol, including:

  • HDL cholesterol
  • LDL cholesterol
  • Triglycerides
  • VLDL
  • Non-HDL cholesterol

HDL cholesterol is good as it helps remove bad cholesterol from the blood vessels. The other types of cholesterol are bad because they can contribute to plaque buildup in the blood vessels. Plaque buildup can obstruct blood flow, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

What is Non-HDL Cholesterol?

Non-HDL cholesterol is a measure of all the cholesterol in your blood that is not HDL cholesterol. There are several lipoproteins that make up non-HDL cholesterol. These include:

Low-Density Lipoprotein

LDL is a type of lipoprotein that carries cholesterol throughout the body. LDL is often referred to as "bad" cholesterol. This is because high levels of LDL can build up in the arteries and increase the risk of heart disease.

Very Low-Density Lipoprotein

VLDL carries triglycerides from food to cells in the body. Its produced in the liver. VLDL is usually converted to intermediate-density lipoprotein when muscles and fat tissues extract triglycerides from VLDL molecules.

IDL further transforms into low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the bloodstream. As a result, VLDL contributes to the levels of "bad" cholesterol in the blood.

Intermediate-Density Lipoprotein

IDL forms when triglycerides are removed from VLDL. IDL is often referred to as "transitional" cholesterol. This is because it can convert into LDL or HDL.


Chylomicrons are the largest lipoprotein particles. They're responsible for transporting triglycerides from the intestines to the tissues.

What is the Healthy Non-HDL Cholesterol Range?

The healthy non-HDL cholesterol range is an essential factor in assessing cardiovascular health. An optimal level of non-HDL cholesterol should be less than 130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). This is equivalent to 3.37 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

If you are looking to maintain a healthy heart, this range serves as a benchmark. When you maintain a normal range of non-HDL cholesterol, you can improve your heart health.

What Happens When You Have High Levels of Cholesterol?

Having high non-HDL cholesterol can increase your chances of developing atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when cholesterol and other substances build up in the walls of your arteries, narrowing your arteries.

High non-HDL cholesterol contributes to plaque formation. This can restrict blood flow to vital organs. When the blood supply to your heart is insufficient, chest pain or angina can occur. It can be a warning sign of atherosclerosis.

If atherosclerosis progresses, it can lead to a heart attack. During a heart attack, blood flow to a part of the heart muscle becomes severely blocked. This can cause permanent damage.

Too much non-HDL cholesterol also raises the risk of stroke. This is when blood flow to the brain is disrupted. As a result, you may develop neurological problems like paralysis, speech difficulties, or cognitive impairments.

Factors That Can Contribute To High Non-HDL Cholesterol Levels

Although cholesterol is vital in your body, high levels of non-HDL cholesterol are bad for your health. Here are some factors that contribute to elevated non-HDL cholesterol levels:

Dietary Choices

The food you consume plays a crucial role in your cholesterol levels. Diets rich in saturated fats and trans fats can raise non-HDL cholesterol levels. Foods that contain saturated fats and trans fats include:

  • Red meat
  • Full-fat dairy products
  • Processed foods
  • Fried items

Sedentary Lifestyle

Physical activity can have a huge impact on cholesterol levels. Leading a sedentary lifestyle contributes to higher levels of non-HDL cholesterol. This can worsen your cardiovascular health.


When you have obesity, your triglyceride levels increase. This can lead to the formation of smaller LDL particles. The small LDL particles are more susceptible to oxidation, increasing their propensity to adhere to the arterial walls.


When your thyroid is underactive, fewer thyroid hormones are produced. This leads to reduced activity of LDL receptors, causing an increase in LDL cholesterol levels.


Genetic factors can significantly influence non-HDL cholesterol levels. Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a genetic disorder that leads to high LDL cholesterol levels from birth.

If you have FH, you have a higher risk of having too much non-HDL cholesterol. As a result, you may develop premature cardiovascular disease.

Smoking and Alcohol Consumption

Smoking lowers HDL cholesterol levels and increases the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. This can elevate your non-HDL cholesterol levels. Excessive alcohol consumption can also raise triglyceride levels and contribute to higher non-HDL cholesterol.

Chronic Kidney Disease

Your kidney helps to remove toxins and waste from your body. If you have chronic kidney disease, the function of the kidney becomes impaired.

As a result, clearance of VLDL from the bloodstream reduces. This raises the non-HDL cholesterol levels in the body.

Type 2 Diabetes

Insulin deficiency due to Type 2 Diabetes decreases the expression of LDL receptors. This results in fewer receptors available to remove LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. When this happens, it increases your non-HDL cholesterol levels.

Symptoms of High Non-HDL Cholesterol

High non-HDL cholesterol does not usually cause any symptoms. However, high non-HDL cholesterol can increase your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases. As a result, you are more likely to experience symptoms of these conditions, such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Vision problems
  • Easy bruising

If you experience any of these symptoms, see a doctor right away.

Diagnosis of High Non-HDL Cholesterol

To get a diagnosis of high non-HDL cholesterol, you need to visit a healthcare professional. They will conduct a non-HDL cholesterol blood test or a lipid panel test. It involves a simple blood draw.

During this test, the doctor will analyze your blood for total cholesterol. To determine the non-HDL cholesterol level, the HDL cholesterol value is subtracted from the total cholesterol measurement.

In most cases, you don't need to fast before a non-HDL cholesterol blood test. However, there are cases where fasting may be recommended. You may need to fast 8 to 12 hours prior to the test if you have conditions that can affect triglyceride and lipid levels in the blood.

Ways You Can Maintain Healthy Non-HDL Cholesterol Levels

There are a lot of lifestyle changes that you can make to lower your levels of non-HDL cholesterol. Here are tips to help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels for healthy living:

Make Dietary Changes

Making healthy dietary changes can lower your non-HDL cholesterol levels. Start by limiting your intake of saturated fats, trans fats, and processed foods. Here are foods you should consume instead:

  • High-fiber foods: Include beans, berries, and avocado
  • Unsaturated fats: Include avocado, vegetable oils, and nuts
  • Water: Drinking water instead of sugary drinks

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Excess body fat can slow the removal of LDL from the bloodstream. Losing weight can help make a difference.

You can do this by exercising regularly. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises, 5 times a week.

To estimate whether your weight is healthy, calculate your BMI. A BMI of 25 or higher is considered overweight. If your BMI is 30 or higher, you may be obese.

Quit Smoking

Are you a smoker with high non-HDL cholesterol?

If you are, you may need to stop smoking to lower the levels of non-HDL cholesterol. Quitting smoking is not easy. To get help, talk to your doctor about medication or other resources to help you stop smoking.

Reduce Alcohol Intake

If you're concerned about your non-HDL cholesterol levels, limit your alcohol intake. Alternate alcoholic drinks with water or other non-alcoholic beverages.

Take Prescribed Medications

If lifestyle changes are not enough to lower your non-HDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe medications called statins. Statins work by blocking the production of cholesterol in the liver. This can help lower LDL cholesterol levels by 3050%.

Some common statins your doctor may prescribe include:

  • Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • Fluvastatin (Lescol)
  • Lovastatin (Mevacor)
  • Pitavastatin (Livalo)
  • Pravastatin (Pravachol)
  • Rosuvastatin (Crestor)
  • Simvastatin (Zocor)

If moderate-intensity statin therapy isn't effective, your doctor may recommend high-intensity statin therapy. This involves consuming larger daily doses of the medication. However, it carries a higher risk of side effects.

Lower Your Non-HDL Cholesterol Levels

Now that you know the answer to the question, "what is non-HDl cholesterol," it's time to take control of your health.

Non-HDL cholesterol is an important marker of cardiovascular health. But it often gets overlooked. When you understand what non-HDL cholesterol is, you can maintain it to healthy levels and improve your health.

Ready to take charge of your heart health? Look no further than Cardio Cleanse. Our powerful supplement can help maximize your heart health potential.

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