Breaking down types of fat particles

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Cholesterol circulates in the blood in the form of small particles called lipoproteins. Because cholesterol (the "lipo" part of "lipoprotein") doesn't dissolve in water, it has to be surrounded by proteins so it can remain suspended in blood. Otherwise it would separate just like oil separates from water.

Most of the fat your child eats is in a form called triglyceride. For example, the fat you see surrounding a piece of steak is triglyceride.

The different fats are neatly packaged into four particles in the blood. To treat high cholesterol properly, you need to know the levels of these different particles:

¡^ Chylomicrons, the biggest fat particles, carry the fat from the meal your child just ate. They don't remain in the blood and don't cause arteriosclerosis (the hardening of the arteries). They disappear rapidly from the blood and usually aren't measured in a lipid panel.

¡^ High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is the particle that carries cholesterol back to the liver where it's broken down. HDL is known as "good" cholesterol because it reduces the danger of arteriosclerosis. The size of HDL particles is between the size of LDL and VLDL particles.

¡^ Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), known as "bad" cholesterol, is the smallest in size. It's bad because it's the particle that carries cholesterol to the arteries in which it's deposited, leading to arteriosclerosis.

¡^ Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL) particles contain mostly triglyceride as the fat. These are smaller than chylomicrons.

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