Day & Night; Darkness & Light; Happiness & Sadness-Just like this cholesterol can also be good and bad. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is required by the human body, but in balanced quantities. Haphazard cholesterol levels can increase your risk of heart attack, strokes and other health problems. Unlike fat that is stored in our body around the waist or thighs, cholesterol travels through our blood streams by carriers made of fat (lipid) and protein and hence, have been rightly named as lipoprotein.
The Numbers on the Report Card
Total cholesterol numbers contain these 3 groups:
- LDL or the ‘bad’ cholesterol is the worst of the lot and must be taken utmost care of. Otherwise, these can clog the arteries and increase the risk of life-threatening health problems. Just remember the ‘L’ in LDL to be lousy and hence, must be kept low.
- HDL is the ‘good’ cholesterol that our body yearns for. We want more of this cholesterol as HDL helps to carry away the bad cholesterol and minimizes the risk of stroke and heart attack. It is not wrong to equate the ‘H’ in HDL to healthy and happy.
- VLDL is also like LDL and is a type of ‘bad’ cholesterol. Not very popular, LDL and HDL numbers are what we are concerned about.
Thought triglycerides are not a part of the total cholesterol numbers, these are also usually measured along with total cholesterol numbers. Triglycerides are a kind of fat which increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and other conditions at elevated levels.
The cholesterol numbers of a normal person without diabetes, heart disease or other risk factors should indicate the following:
- HDL-60 or higher
- LDL-below 130 (the lower the value, the better it is for the person involved)
- Non-HDL-below 160
- Total cholesterol-below 200
- Triglycerides-below 150
Maintaining Normal Cholesterol Levels
- First and foremost is to stay on a healthy weight. If you are already on a healthy weight, maintain it, otherwise target to lose at least 5-10% of body weight. Even such small reductions can cause big changes in your cholesterol levels.
- Refrain from eating unhealthy fats and cholesterol. Avoid foods such as red meat, butter, full-fat dairy, fried foods and baked goods.
- Every individual needs to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. If you have lived a sedentary life all these years, start doing exercise gradually and increase pace and time.
- Meet with your physician and discuss about the various treatment options available. Some individuals, despite leading a healthy lifestyle would need external medication to lower cholesterol levels.
It is recommended that all individuals, aged above 20 years, get their cholesterol levels checked every four to six years to stay safe. If you have alarmingly high cholesterol levels, you are inviting diseases to occupy your body. In such scenarios, it is better to get in touch with a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com who can help you normalize total cholesterol levels.
Good and evil rule the world. Every human is a mix of both, good and bad qualities. Likewise, good and bad cholesterol is an indispensable part of our body. While fat can be found hanging around our waist or thighs, cholesterol travels directly through our bloodstream which is dangerous.