Cholesterol and more specifically high LDL cholesterol affects an estimated 71 million adults in the United States alone according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Knowing this, it is very important to be aware of your cholesterol levels especially if it runs in your family history because a high cholesterol level essentially doubles your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The numbers are slightly different for men and women so knowing the recommended level of cholesterol that is right for you is the first step of keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level.
Different Types of Cholesterol
Let’s begin by understanding the different types of cholesterol and how it works. Lipoproteins are the vehicle that transports cholesterol around the body so these specific proteins are what we will be discussing. There are two types of lipoproteins. LDL (Low-Density Lipoproteins) and HDL (High-Density Lipoproteins), with LDL cholesterol being the “bad cholesterol” you’ve heard about. Having too high a level of this type in your body will cause it to build up and leave you prone to risk for cardiovascular disease. HDL cholesterol is considered the “good cholesterol” because it’s primary purpose is to aid in transporting cholesterol from the body and return it back to the liver where it will be naturally removed.
What are Healthy Cholesterol Levels
So understanding what you just read, keeping your cholesterol levels in balance is your primary goal but also note that women require a recommended higher HDL level when compared to men. Your aim is to keep your total cholesterol levels less than 200 mg/dL with optimum LDL cholesterol levels of less than 100 mg/dL. Having an HDL cholesterol level of above 60 mg/dL is considered a great protective measure against heart disease but strive to achieve at least a number close to or above 50 mg/dL.
As you age, pay particular attention to these numbers as your medical professional should inform you of this information. Numbers for women, for example, will jump during life changes such as after menopause. This is natural but one must be aware so they can adjust for this as any number above 200 mg/dL is considered a risk factor. Typically a woman aged 50 to 59 will see a jump close to 219 mg/dL, after menopause, which puts them in a high-risk category (coming from around a baseline of 194 mg/dL).
How to Lower Cholesterol
In order to protect yourself, adjusting your diet is the best way to ensure you don’t have such high levels of cholesterol in your body. Avoiding foods known to be high in fat such as animal meat, dairy products, and eggs is one way to achieve this or at the very least, opt for lower cholesterol varieties. Increasing your daily intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods is also a good step towards a healthier life. Keep watch of this and you’ll be on your way. For a more detailed low cholesterol diet guide, visit www.cholesterolmenu.com.