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.

With

Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

June 17, 2022 See more Expert Answers

See also

  1. Arcus senilis: A sign of high cholesterol?
  2. Birth control pill FAQ
  3. Cholesterol concerns? Get moving
  4. Cholesterol concerns? Lose excess pounds
  5. Cholesterol level: Can it be too low?
  6. Cholesterol medications: Consider the options
  7. Cholesterol ratio or non-HDL cholesterol: Which is most important?
  8. Cholesterol test kits: Are they accurate?
  9. Cholesterol: Top foods to improve your numbers
  10. Cholesterol-lowering supplements may be helpful
  11. Coconut oil: Can it cure hypothyroidism?
  12. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
  13. Prickly pear cactus
  14. Eggs and cholesterol
  15. Eggs: Bad for cholesterol?
  16. Fasting diet: Can it improve my heart health?
  17. Five foods to lower your cholesterol
  18. Flaxseed best when ground
  19. Hashimoto's disease
  20. HDL cholesterol: How to boost your 'good' cholesterol
  21. Herbal supplements and heart drugs
  22. High cholesterol
  23. High cholesterol in children
  24. High cholesterol treatment: Does cinnamon lower cholesterol?
  25. Hypothyroidism: Can calcium supplements interfere with treatment?
  26. Hypothyroidism diet
  27. Hypothyroidism and joint pain?
  28. Hypothyroidism: Should I take iodine supplements?
  29. Hypothyroidism symptoms: Can hypothyroidism cause eye problems?
  30. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  31. Is your diet hurting your heart?
  32. Lowering Triglycerides
  33. Menus for heart-healthy eating
  34. Metabolic syndrome
  35. Niacin overdose: What are the symptoms?
  36. Niacin to improve cholesterol numbers
  37. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
  38. Is there a risk of rhabdomyolysis from statins?
  39. Soy: Does it reduce cholesterol?
  40. Soy: Does it worsen hypothyroidism?
  41. Statin side effects
  42. Statins
  43. Statins: Do they cause ALS?
  44. Statins: Should you be on one?
  45. Lifestyle changes to improve cholesterol
  46. Trans fat: A double whammy
  47. Trans fat
  48. Trans fat substitutes: Not a slam dunk
  49. Triglycerides: Why do they matter?