Now don’t be scared, this topic can be intimidating but it’s important to understand it so you can do what’s best for you and your family. Understanding the basics of cholesterol can help you make choices that can not only help you and your loved ones live longer but also improve the quality of your life. Who wants to live to be 100 but be bed ridden?
The first thing to understand about cholesterol is that there are two types found in our bodies. One is considered to be beneficial to our health while the other can be hazardous. Your total cholesterol level contains information on the levels of these two forms of cholesterol as well as the level of triglycerides present in the body. With a simple blood test your doctor can determine your cholesterol levels. This test should be performed at least once a year to monitor the amounts of these substances in your body.
Let’s start with the good stuff. HDL or high density lipoprotein is responsible for for lowering the bad cholesterol by removing it from the blood stream and organs of the body and taking it to the liver. Next, the liver will then break down the bad (LDL) cholesterol. It is recommended that your HDL levels stay above 40mg for your body to work correctly in removing bad cholesterol and fats. Exercise is the number one way to increase HDL levels followed by a healthy diet.
LDL, which stands for low density lipoprotein, is known as the “bad” cholesterol. If this type of cholesterol is present in high amounts in the body you will be more at risk for developing heart disease and other serious conditions. The key is to keep a low range of LDL cholesterol by monitoring your diet. For a person of average health the level of LDL in the body should remain under 160mg. Weight loss, proper menu planning, and exercise will help you maintain a healthy level of LDL cholesterol
Here’s an easy trick to remember which is which. HDL starts with an H and H stands for “high” or above 40mg. LDL starts with an L and L stands for “low” and we want our LDL levels lower than 160mg.
Of course, when talking about cholesterol we cannot leave out Triglycerides which are similar to the LDL cholesterol. If the level is high they can put your body at risk for heart problems. However normal levels of triglycerides are important because they also help to provide the energy necessary for daily function. A healthy level of triglycerides is anything below 150mg. Those at risk for high triglycerides are those who also may suffer from obesity, hypothyroidism, and metabolic syndrome.
Keeping the HDL and LDL at their correct levels can easily be managed with just a few simple things. First, of course, is menu planning (you know we’ve got you covered there) and daily exercise can help to keep your cholesterol numbers at their normal and good range. Avoiding sugar, smoking, saturated fats, hydrogenated fats and other “fake” fats can assist greatly with keeping your cholesterol levels within healthy ranges.