What Is Cholesterol?

So, what is cholesterol? Put it modestly, cholesterol is a waxy fat found in the bloodstream. Cholesterol is moulded by the liver and is used by the body to build cells and keep organs operative properly. While cholesterol is actually a good thing, the trouble starts when we eat foods high in dietary cholesterol, like butter, red meat, and baked goods. Since the liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs, the extra amount from the food you eat causes your cholesterol level to become raised, which leads to the build-up of plaque in your arteries. This build-up is accountable for heart disease, stroke, dementia, and coronary artery disease.

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According to the Centres for Disease Control, one in six American adults has high cholesterol. As a result, you’re encouraged to get yours tested today! When you go in for a cholesterol test, your results will be reported as five numbers:

  • total cholesterol
  • LDL or low-density lipoprotein (this is the bad kind)
  • HDL or high-density lipoprotein (this is the good kind)
  • triglycerides
  • And a ratio of HDL to total cholesterol.

In order to better comprehend how the results are broken down, let’s take a look at one result:

Total Cholesterol: 230, since most doctors consider normal cholesterol levels to be under 200. But total cholesterol doesn’t tell the whole story of your heart health. Let’s look at the next number.

HDL: Dubbed the “good cholesterol,” HDL actually eliminates excess cholesterol from the blood stream. A high HDL number actually decreases the risk of heart disease, and many foods that help lower cholesterol also increase HDL. The suggested range of HDL is between 40–60mg/dL, and this one was 75. So we’re in great shape here. Let’s see how much of the bad stuff is flowing through ones veins.

LDL: Since this is the type of cholesterol that blocks up your arteries, you want this number to stay as low as conceivable. The AHA says normal cholesterol levels for LDL are lower than 100 mg/dL, and this one was 137, probably thanks to some cookie obsession. Looks like we have some work to do here.

Triglycerides: Triglycerides are fat found in your blood that classically come from foods. An unwholesome diet, sedentary lifestyle and extreme consumption of alcohol all contribute to high triglyceride levels. Here’s a disgusting side note: if your trigs get too high, your blood will look pink when it flows into the tube because of all the fat. Gross!

Ratio: According to Dr. Ornish, who’s viewed as one of the leading sources for heart health, your cholesterol ratio (total to HDL) is a “better predictor of heart disease” than any of the other numbers A ratio of 3.0 or lower is considered good, and this one was so close, clocking in at 3.1.