What is VLDL cholesterol? Can it be harmful?
Answer From Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.
Very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol is produced in the liver and released into the bloodstream to supply body tissues with a type of fat (triglycerides).
There are several types of cholesterol, each made up of lipoproteins and fats. Each type of lipoprotein contains a mixture of cholesterol, protein and triglycerides, but in varying amounts. About half of a VLDL particle is made up of triglycerides.
High levels of VLDL cholesterol have been associated with the development of plaque deposits on artery walls, which narrow the passage and restrict blood flow.
There's no simple, direct way to measure VLDL cholesterol, which is why it's normally not mentioned during a routine cholesterol screening. VLDL cholesterol is usually estimated as a percentage of your triglyceride value. An elevated VLDL cholesterol level is more than 30 milligrams per deciliter (0.77 millimole/liter).
The best way to lower your VLDL cholesterol is to lower your triglycerides. Losing weight and exercising regularly are key, and you might also want to avoid sugary food and alcohol in particular. Medications also can help.
Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.
June 13, 2018
- McPherson RA, et al., eds. Lipids and dyslipoproteinemia. In: Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier; 2017. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 23, 2018.
- VLDL cholesterol. Lab Tests Online. http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/vldl/tab/glance. Accessed April 23, 2018.
- Rosenson RS, et al. Hypertriglyceridemia. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed April 23, 2018.