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The Wellness Library

What is the true bad cholesterol?

by | Oct 12, 2016 | Nutrition

There is a lot of talk about high cholesterol being the ultimate risk factor for cardiovascular disease. While I think that having high amounts of cholesterol is not beneficial to your heart, I also want to talk about a different perspective. What if it’s not the amount, but the status of your cholesterol that is the most harmful?

A new biomarker can potentially predict just how risky your cholesterol actually is. Oxidized LDL-C (OxLDL) is a value that shows the number of LDL cholesterol molecules (the “bad” cholesterol) that have been oxidized by free radicals. By oxidizing these already bad cholesterol molecules, they turn rancid, sticky, and more prone to adhere to your blood vessel lining. Many researchers have confirmed that high levels of OxLDL is associated with cardiovascular disease because of its pro-inflammatory and damaging effects to the blood vessels leading to atherosclerosis (plaque build-up).

In a study by Huang et al1, the researchers measured blood OxLDL, total cholesterol, LDL-C, HDL-C, triglycerides, and albumin levels in 5 different groups:

  • 80 patients with acute myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • 80 patients with unstable angina pectoris (chest pain)
  • 80 patients with stable angina pectoris
  • 60 control patients with dyslipidemia (abnormal lipid lab values)
  • 60 healthy control patients

The authors found that the OxLDL levels and the ratios of OxLDL to the other markers (OxLDL to total cholesterol, OxLDL to LDL-C, OxLDL to HDL-C and OxLDL to albumin) were significantly higher among the groups of patients that suffered from disease than among the control patients. If the patient had coronary artery disease plus high blood pressure or diabetes the OxLDL levels and OxLDL ratios increased even further. These results show that OxLDL and the oxidation ratios of LDL to other markers are better biomarkers than the standard lipid panels in determining your risk for heart disease.

Functional lab companies do offer testing of your OxLDL levels, so contact us today if you want a 360° view of your cardiovascular disease risk.

Find out how Minneapolis Integrative Medicine Center approaches heart disease and schedule your free 15 minute consultation today.


  1. Huang H, Mai W, Liu D, Hao Y, Tao J, Dong Y. The oxidation ratio of LDL: a predictor for coronary artery disease. Dis Markers. 2008;24:341-349.


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