Things You Should Know About Cholesterol


There are several components that make up your total cholesterol reading. You’ve got your HDL’s, LDL’s and your triglycerides. HDL stands for High Density Lipoproteins. If we were to break it down into good guys and bad guys, these are your good guys. LDL stands for Low Density Lipoproteins and they are the bad guys. Triglycerides are the form in which fat is stored in your body’s fat cells. Your triglyceride level is almost always strongly influenced by your lifestyle which includes your diet and your activity level. Have you had your cholesterol levels checked by your doctor? If not, you definitely should! Knowing where your levels are can help you see where you might need to make changes in your diet or activity level to avoid a heart attack.

For example, if you have high triglycerides (over 150 mg/dL is considered borderline high) and low HDL (less than 40 mg/dL if you’re a man and less than 50 mg/dL if you’re a woman), your risk of heart disease is greater. To find out if you have this additional risk, divide your triglyceride count by your HDL count. Ideally, the resulting number will be 2 or lower. Let’s say your triglyceride level is 200 and your HDL is 40, divide 200 by 40 and you get 5. This is much higher than the recommended ratio, and tells you that you have a higher risk of having a heart attack that will need to address with your doctor.

Your triglyceride level can also give you insight into your LDL particle size. As a general rule, the higher your triglycerides and the lower your HDL, the smaller and denser your LDL and therefore the greater your risk of heart disease. If your triglycerides are higher than 200 and your HDL is lower than 45, it is likely that you have way too much small, dense LDL which can cause you problems!

No fear, there are ways to lower your triglycerides. Eating a healthy diet that includes lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbs, losing weight by getting more exercise can also help. Your doctor might also prescribe a medication such as niacin to lower your triglycerides, increase your HDL, and enlarge your LDL particle size.

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