How Much Cholesterol – What Your Numbers Mean

How Much Cholesterol Is Okay

How much cholesterol?  Well, you have received the bad news that your cholesterol is high.  They give you a LDL number and HDL number and they talk about your triglycerides.  But what on earth do those numbers mean?  How much cholesterol is okay.  Understanding your numbers is the first step before you can begin to treat high cholesterol.

hyperlipidemia How Much Cholesterol   What Your Numbers Mean

Knowing your numbers is the first step in treating high cholesterol.

LDL: LDL is short for Low Density Lipoproteints.  LDL is the most common form of cholesterol and is known as the “bad cholesterol” .  LDL is the stuff that clogs your arteries leading the atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis, in turn, leads to strokes and heart attacks. Diets high in saturated and trans fats often leads to elevated LDL.

LDL Numbers to Know:

  • Less than 100 = normal
  • 101-129= near normal, slightly high
  • 130-159 = borderline
  • 160-189 = high
  • 190= severely high
Plaque Build Up How Much Cholesterol   What Your Numbers Mean

LDL cholesterol contributes to plaque build up in arteries leading to strokes and heart attacks.

HDL:  HDL is short for High Density Lipoproteins.  Approximately one-third of the cholesterol you carry in your body is HDL. HDL is called “good cholesterol” because its job is to remove LDL (the bad stuff).  The higher your HDL number, the better. The higher the HDL the more bad LDL cholesterol is eliminated from your blood stream preventing it from building up in your arteries.  People with higher HDL have far less risk of developing heart disease. Healthy fats such as olive oil and omega 3s can help raise your HDL levels.

HDL Numbers to Know:

  • Greater than 60= ideal
  • Less than 40= low for men
  • Less than 50 = low for women

Triglycerides:  Triglycerides are a fat that enters our blood stream from our foods then is stored as body fat. Our system converts excess calories, sugar, alcohol and carbs into triglycerides.  People who are overweight, inactive, smokers, or drink large amounts of alcohol often have elevated triglycerides.  Diets high in carbohydrates also leads to elevated triglycerides.  Numbers over 150 put you at risk for metabolic syndrome which leads to heart disease and diabetes.

Triglycerides Numbers To Know:

  • Less than 150 = ideal
  • 151-199 = borderline
  • 200+ = high

Total Cholesterol:  Total cholesterol is a measurement of the total amount of LDL, HDL and VLDL(Precursors to LDL) in your blood stream.  The total number should be below 200.

Knowing your numbers and understanding the components of cholesterol is the first step in being able to treat your condition.  Diet and exercise has been proven to reverse high cholesterol in many people.  Knowing your levels allows you to devise a diet and exercise plan that addresses your specific cholesterol problem.  How much cholesterol is a question you need to ask  yourself.  Getting to the doctor to have a blood draw done will answer how much cholesterol you have.

For more information about cholesterol levels, nutrition and treatment plans, please refer to some of the following resources:

LDL HDL Cholesterol Levels

Web MD Cholesterol Management Center

Heart.org

Knowing your cholesterol levels and what your numbers mean gives you the power to create a heart healthy lifestyle.  Then you can enjoy a lifetime of good health. How much cholesterol do you have?

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3 Responses to How Much Cholesterol – What Your Numbers Mean

  1. Lisa March 4, 2012 at 5:17 am #

    How much control does diet play in the role of cholesterol? My mom in her 80′s recently has been told hers is high and was given an info sheet on what foods to eat and which not to eat. Will that alone bring it down?

    • adoctorandanurse March 4, 2012 at 7:06 am #

      Lisa, the answer to your questions is yes but will diet be enough? Probably not. Lowering cholesterol significantly usually takes a combination of diet (food choices), exercise and weight loss.

      There are some things that she can do with her diet that will really help. 1. Stay away from foods that have a lot of saturated fat such as cheese, red meats etc. 2. Add fiber to her diet such as oatmeal, leafy greens, etc. 3. For an easy way to get lots of fiber and to pretty much instantly decrease her cholesterol levels she could take a serving of Metamucil or Benefiber everday. Her numbers will definitely show improvement and it happens immediately. However, there is a risk of bowel impactions with these medications and it it necessary to drink lots of fluids (64 oz a day, or so).

      I am writing a post on cholesterol busters for http://www.bitesizewellness.com that will cover some of this information. I am not sure when that story will be published or if it will be published but check out the site for lots of great healthcare information. Also, WebMD has a cholesterol management center online that is full of great information as well. I hope that helps. Jana

      • Sabrina at MyMiBoSo March 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

        Great tips as usual Jana! Can’t wait to read your post on Talia’s site!

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