Understanding Cholesterol Levels

While most people tend to think of cholesterol as a bad thing, it actually serves a useful purpose. According to Harvard Health Publications, cholesterol has three main functions: it makes hormones for the body, it helps produce bile acid that digests food, and it helps to make the outer membranes of cells.

There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Triglycerides, a type of fat, also contribute to your cholesterol level. LDL is considered the bad cholesterol because it contributes to plaque build-up in the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. HDL is beneficial because it moves cholesterol out of the arteries and into the liver. According to the American Heart Association, your total cholesterol level is calculated by adding your HDL level, your LDL level, and 20% of your triglyceride level.

What Is An Ideal Cholesterol Level?

The American Heart Association says that a healthy total cholesterol level should be below 200. An optimal HDL level is 60 or more, and an optimal LDL level is below 100. The key is to keep your cholesterol at a manageable level. This and can be achieved through physical activity and a change in diet.

How Do I Know What My Cholesterol Level Is?

Schedule an appointment with your doctor to get your lipid panels reviewed. This usually involves a fasting blood test.

What Foods Should I Eat To Lower LDL Cholesterol?

If your level is high, make an effort to cut out the sweets and red meats. Foods high in fiber and foods with omega-3 fatty acids can help bring your bad levels down and your good levels up. Here are several foods you should incorporate into your diet, according to Harvard Health Publications. As always, talk to your doctor first for advice on how to best lower your cholesterol level.

  • Fatty Fish Like Salmon
  • Walnuts, Peanuts, and Almonds
  • Green Tea or Black Tea
  • Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil
  • Beans