Cholesterol Levels

Generally you can’t pick a single reason why cholesterol levels rise or fall. If high cholesterol runs in family, it is likely to be a major contributor to the sensitivity of changes in levels of cholesterol. Lifestyle habits like eating unhealthy, excessive drinking, smoking, and inactivity can raise cholesterol levels. Different people have different sensitivity to cholesterol; for some high cholesterol diet can increase their LDL and total cholesterol level much more significantly compared to others.

Symptoms of High Cholesterol

There are no known symptoms to identify high cholesterol levels. Therefore it’s necessary for anybody over 19 years old to have a fasting lipoprotein profile at least once every 5 years. Women over 55 and men over 45, as well as people genetically prone to high cholesterol or with high cholesterol history need to have the test performed more regularly. This simple blood test is done after not having any food, liquid or pill intake for 9-12 hours.

The results of this test reveal:

  • Total cholesterol level
  • LDL cholesterol (Low-density lipoprotein), also known as bad cholesterol
  • HDL cholesterol (High-density lipoprotein), also known as good cholesterol
  • Triglycerides (TG, triacylglycerol, TAG, Triacylglyceride)

Such report shows person’s cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood.


Total Cholesterol Levels

The sum of different cholesterol types in your blood is referred to as total cholesterol. This measurement, while good, can be occasionally misleading. Generally, more specific measurements are needed for better understanding the issue & choosing the right treatment, more so for those with history of diabetes or coronary artery disease. As a general rule, higher levels of cholesterol mean higher risk of coronary heart disease. Drop of cholesterol by 1 point achieves approximately 2% risk drop of heart disease.

Cholesterol Levels by The American Heart Association

Less than 200 mg/dL Optimal
200 – 239 mg/dL Borderline high
240 mg/dL or higher High Cholesterol – over 200% the risk of coronary heart disease in comparison to someone with optimal levels


HDL Cholesterol Levels

High-density lipoproteins (HDLs), also known as good cholesterol, act like waste removal carriers. They move the cholesterol from your blood and artery walls to your liver for removal from your body. About 1/3 to 1/4 of blood cholesterol is carried by HDL. For this reason, obviously, higher HDL cholesterol levels are desirable.

Less than 40 mg/dL (men), 50 mg/dL (women) Such HDL cholesterol levels are a major risk for heart
60 mg/dL or above Optimal – HDL cholesterol of 60 mg/dL & above is protective


High triglyceride levels, physical inactivity, being overweight, obese, smoking, high carbohydrate intakes, type two diabetes, some medications as well as genetic factors can contribute to low HDL cholesterol levels.


LDL Cholesterol Levels

Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), also known as bad cholesterol, keep blood cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, leaving plaque on artery walls along the way. As this process develops over time, up goes atherosclerosis risk. Obviously, lower LDL cholesterol levels are desirable.


Less than 100 mg/dL Optimal
100 – 129 mg/dL Near optimal
130 – 159 mg/dL Borderline high
160 – 189 mg/dL High
190 mg/dL or above Very high


Your optimal LDL level depend on your other heart disease risk factors. Optimal levels for one person don’t necessary mean optimal level for a different person. It’s necessary to consult your doctor to determine the optimal LDL level for you.


Triglycerides Levels

High blood triglycerides generally mean lower HDL cholesterol, higher risk of heart attack & stroke. Additionally, underlying diseases or genetic disorders such as diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity & insulin resistance generally keep company to high triglycerides levels. The main therapy is a lifestyle change.

Triglycerides Levels by The American Heart Association

Less than 150 mg/dL Normal
150 – 199 mg/dL Borderline high
200 – 499 mg/dL High
500 mg/dL or above Very high


Normal triglyceride levels may vary depending on age & sex.


There are activities and plans that you can incorporate into your life so that you increase the number of HDL that you have aiding your body in digestion. To improve the health of your heart and your overall cardiovascular system it’s important to take action immediately if you have been diagnosed with a high amount of LDL and low HDL. The best thing that you can do is participate in aerobic exercise or do interval training exercise. You will have to change your diet if you haven’t already by measuring the amount of fat that is in each meal. Do you know what your blood type is? Acknowledge your blood type and the metabolism that you have and adjust your diet accordingly.

If you are unsure as to what type of metabolic type you are, you can contact a dietary physician to aide you in your new diet plan. Take your vitamins everyday or shop for new supplements that are a bit stronger in the nutrition that you are lacking in. You shouldn’t cut out fats altogether, being that your body does need healthy fats to continue working correctly and so that you can increase the number of high density lipoproteins within your body. Foods that are very high in fiber may raise your HDL right away and prevent you from experiencing inflammation. If you can boost your antioxidants with your diet and watch the amount of sugar that you are taking into your body then your diet is steadily improving.

There are foods that have a healthy amount of antioxidants for your body and which will protect your body against any sort of heart attack or cardiovascular problems. Here is a list of supplements that will aide you in increasing your HDL and lowering your LDL: Fish oil, niacin, vitamin b-5, vitamin c, vitamin d, magnesium, vitamin e-complex, and polycosanol. The most effective out of all of these are the b-3 and b-5 vitamins. If you are unsure as to how you should write out your grocery list, then check out this list of foods that will help you to increase the HDL in your body: Fish, salmon, tuna, raw nuts (without added sugar or salt), flaxseeds, eggs whites, onions, raw vegetables, anything with oats, various fruits, should be some of the highlights of your diet.


Absolute Numbers for Cholesterol Levels & Cholesterol Ratio

Using absolute numbers of cholesterol levels is the recommended way by The American Heart Association for making a better informed decision. That said, cholesterol ratio is measured by dividing the total cholesterol by HDL cholesterol level. 3.5:1 is the optimum ratio; it’s important to keep below the 5:1 ratio. (ex. total cholesterol – 200 mg/dL, HDL cholesterol – 50 mg/dL; total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol, 200:50 = 4:1; ratio 4:1)