What exactly is Cholesterol? Cholesterol is defined as a waxy alcohol, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in all areas of the human body. Your body needs some cholesterol to help it work properly and is required to establish proper membrane permeability and fluidity.
If you have an excess of cholesterol in your blood according to the chart, it can stick to the walls of the arteries. When cholesterol adheres to the artery walls it is called plaque. Plaque will gradually narrow your arteries and can even block them completely. If an artery that supplies blood to the muscles in your heart becomes blocked, a heart attack can occur. If an artery that supplies blood to your brain becomes blocked, a stroke can occur.
More that a million Americans die of heart disease each year. One of the major causes is high cholesterol levels in the blood. The National Cholesterol Education Program suggests that total blood cholesterol level should be:
This blood cholesterol chart shows what your blood cholesterol levels should be and includes low and high cholesterol level measurements - (See below for printable cholesterol level chart).
|Blood Cholesterol Level Chart|
|Desirable||Borderline (high)||High Risk|
|Total Cholesterol||< 200||200-240||> 240|
|Triglycerides||< 150||150-500||> 500|
|Low Density Cholesterol||< 130||130-160||>160|
|High Density Cholesterol||> 50||50-35||< 35|
Eighty-percent of the cholesterol in your body is produced by your liver, and the rest comes from foods like meats, eggs and dairy products. The biggest influence on blood cholesterol level is fats in your diet, not the amount of cholesterol you eat from food. Narrowing it down further what really matters is the "type" of fat you eat.
Their are two types of fats, "good fat" which are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, lower your risk of disease such as heart disease and atherosclerosis. "Bad fats" being saturated and trans fats will increase the risk for certain diseases. The key to healthy eating is to substitute the bad fats for good fats avoiding the trans fats. See: Guide to Good and Bad Cholesterol. Major dietary sources containing high cholesterol include cheese, egg yolks, beef, pork, poultry, and shrimp.
Cholesterol is insoluble in blood and is transported in the body's circulatory system within lipoproteins. There is a large range of lipoproteins within blood, generally called, from larger to smaller size: chylomicrons, very low density lipoprotein (VLDL), intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL), low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL). The actual cholesterol within all the various lipoproteins is identical.
The measurement of your blood cholesterol level and other blood fats is obtained with a simple blood test by your doctor. You will be advised to fast (not eat) for 12 hours before the blood test is performed. Blood is then taken and sent to a laboratory, where the number of milligrams of cholesterol in the blood is determined. Your doctor will then provide you with the test results in accordance with their medical cholesterol level chart.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults aim for a total cholesterol level below 200 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood serum.
It is recommended by the American Heart Association to test cholesterol every 5 years for people aged 20 years or older.
Cholesterol level testing should be more frequent if a person: is a man over age 45 or a woman over age 50, has total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL or more, has HDL (good) cholesterol less than 40 mg/dL, or is at risk of heart disease and stroke.
If you have had your cholesterol level tested and according to the doctors cholesterol chart you are told you have high blood cholesterol you should look at ways of lowering your cholesterol levels including jogging, walking and any activity that concerns exercising more, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, and cholesterol lowering medication. It has been said that Yoga may reduce the effect of cholesterol in your body.
Research has also shown that flaxseed and niacin have been proven to lower cholesterol. Red rice extract has also shown that it has cholesterol lowering properties. Lately a new natural product on the market called red marine algae has been claimed to be an effective means of reducing the cholesterol levels in the blood.
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