In previous posts I’ve covered what is a too high of blood pressure and why. In this post I’ll uncover the concern about cholesterol so you know the basics of how cholesterol effects your body.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance found in your body. It’s made of fat and protein molecules combined. It’s used to produce hormones, Vitamin D (which is actually a hormone), and substances that allow you to digest food.
There’s typically known to be two types of cholesterol, HDL & LDL. Though they’re more types of cholesterol but for the these purposes that’s all you need to know. HDL is known as the “good” cholesterol and LDL is known as the “bad” cholesterol. The reason they’ve got those labels is because HDL acts as a cleaner and discards the LDL “bad” cholesterol, which is good. Keep in mind, that even though they’re labeled “good” & “bad”, they should really be known as “bad” and “worse”. The reason being in because when both are high the benefits diminish and at some point it can be dangerous.
What is a Healthy Cholesterol?
Well, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine a healthy total cholesterol is 200 or less per milligrams/deciliter. A borderline total cholesterol is 200 – 239mg/dl, and very high would be higher than 239 mg/dl. On the other side of the spectrum a too low of cholesterol, particularly HDL, can be unprotective against heart disease.
Micheal Gregor and researchers from NutritionFacts.Org suggest that an optimal healthy total cholesterol is around 150 mg/dl and a optimal HDL cholesterol is 50 – 70 mg/dl.
Unhealthy HDL cholesterol for Men: Less than 40 mg/dl
Unhealthy HDL cholesterol for Woman: Less than 50 mg/dl
Healthy HDL cholesterol for both is above 60 mg/dl
Optimal LDL cholesterol: Less than 100 mg/dl
Above optimal LDL cholesterol: 100 – 129 mg/dl
Borderline high LDL cholesterol: 130 – 159 mg/dl
High LDL cholesterol: 160 – 189 mg/dl
Very high LDL cholesterol: 190 mg/dl
The Dangers of High Cholesterol
As the cholesterol in your blood increases so the formation of plaques.These plaques are made up of mostly cholesterol, saturated fat mostly, and calcium. The formation of plaques is the start of developing atherosclerosis, also known as heart disease, which leads to a heart attack and/or angina.
Angina is a crushing chest from the lack of oxygenated blood getting to your heart.
These plaques get thicker and harder over time and impair the function of your arteries to transport blood. This can lead to sudden cardiac death and in the US its the #1 leading cause of death for males over 40. At an alarming number of 326,200 deaths a year from sudden cardiac arrest equates to roughly the same number of deaths from breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, suicide, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, HIV, motor vehicle accidents, and more, combined!
For most people their first real symptom is there last!
Fortunately, we can all do our part in making sure this doesn’t happen to us. It’s known that the first symptom, if monitored, can be detected over 10 years before a heart attack occurs. Even in children is can start if the diet is bad enough (Standard American Diet) so getting your cholesterol checked earlier is better.
My final 3 tips:
- Eat a diet of 15% or less of your total daily calories from fat and free of animal products which are high in saturated fat.
- Exercise at least 150 minutes a week.
- Eat a diet predominately made of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
Thank you for taking the time to read. I hope this was to your benefit.
Please comment below as I will be sure to respond to questions.
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