What Do I Need To Know Before Getting Screened
A cholesterol test is a simple blood test. Your doctor may tell you not to eat or drink anything except water for 9 to 12 hours before the test. The results give you four measurements:5
- Total cholesterol. About 150 mg/dL is considered optimal.
- LDL cholesterol. About 100 mg/dL is considered optimal. LDL is sometimes called bad cholesterol, because it can build up and clog your arteries, eventually leading to heart disease or stroke.
- HDL cholesterol. It is best to have greater than or equal to 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/dL in women. HDL is sometimes called good cholesterol, because it can help clear arteries of cholesterol buildup.
- Triglycerides. This is a type of fat in the blood. Optimal levels are typically less than 150 mg/dL.
Dietary Tips To Avoid Cholesterol
The most important thing you can do to reduce your cholesterol level is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You should try to:
- Increase the amount and variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods you have each day.
- Choose low or reduced-fat milk, yoghurt and other dairy products or have added calcium soy drinks.
- Choose lean meat .
- Limit fatty meats, including sausages and salami, and choose leaner sandwich meats like turkey breast or cooked lean chicken.
- Have fish at least twice a week.
- Replace butter and dairy blends with polyunsaturated margarines.
- Include foods in your diet that are rich in soluble fibre and healthy fats, such as nuts, legumes and seeds.
- Limit cheese and ice cream to twice a week.
Other storage fats that are transported in blood lipoproteins include triglycerides. When present in high concentrations in the blood, this fat is also a risk for heart attack. Some foods will affect the cholesterol level or the triglyceride level and some will affect both.
What Are Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that plays many roles in the body, including synthesizing hormones and vitamin D. It also assists in the transporting of lipids. Cholesterol is found in the foods you eat, but it is also made by the liver.
- LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol because too much of it can build up in your arteries and form plaques, which increases the risk of heart disease.
- HDL cholesterol is often referred to as “good” cholesterol as it carries cholesterol to the liver to be broken down and excreted.
Since your total cholesterol level is a combination of your LDL cholesterol and your HDL cholesterol, ideally you want to keep your LDL levels low and your HDL levels high. There are many factors that can influence your cholesterol levels, including, diet, exercise, weight, genetics, and other health conditions.
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Foods High In Fiber Low In Saturated Fat Can Lower Cholesterol
While saturated fat and dietary cholesterol both play a role in your cholesterol level, experts stress that the most important dietary change you can make to lower your cholesterol numbers is to adjust the overall pattern of your diet. Best is a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains. This helps in two ways. First, the more of these healthful foods you eat, the less you generally consume of foods that are high in saturated fat and highly refined carbohydrates, which both damage the cardiovascular system. Second, high-fiber foods help reduce your cholesterol level by making unhealthy dietary fats harder to absorb from the gut.
This doesnt work for everyone, however. For people at high risk of heart disease, dietary efforts dont come close to lowering cholesterol enough. Other people are genetically predisposed to having high blood cholesterol regardless of what they eat.
Can Exercise Help To Lower Cholesterol
Yes it can. Getting your blood pumping by doing exercise will reduce your cholesterol. Being active helps your body move the bad cholesterol to your liver where it can be removed out of your system.
You dont have to join a gym or go on long runs if you dont enjoy it, just look for chances to move more every day. Many people find that being active improves their mood so they make healthier food choices. You could try:
- taking the stairs instead of the lift
- a brisk walk instead of a slow walk
- doing two-minute bursts of jumping jacks several times a day
- yoga or pilates if you cant get out
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When To See A Doctor
Because high cholesterol doesnt come with signs or symptoms, getting your cholesterol tested regularly is important in order to keep it in check.
The CDC recommends that healthy adults get their cholesterol tested every 4-6 years, unless high cholesterol runs in their family or they suffer from diabetes or heart disease, in which case they should get checked more often.
Children should get tested at least once between ages 9 and 11, and then again between the ages of 17 and 21.
If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol in the past, its important to keep an ongoing dialogue with your doctor, who may suggest you engage in certain lifestyle changes or take a cholesterol medication.
Dietary Fats And Cholesterol
Reducing dietary cholesterol, saturated fats and trans fats may lower blood pressure and reduce hypertension. In addition, reducing dietary fats and cholesterol lowers the risks of cardiovascular disease and obesity, which are intricately liked with hypertension. Cholesterol is only found in animal foods. Saturated fats are mostly found in animal products and tropical oils, such as palm and coconut. Trans fats were used in hydrogenated vegetable oils, but are transitioning out of the US food supply. The DASH diet helps to reduce dietary fats and cholesterol and increase fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Jacqueline B. Marcus MS, RD, LD, CNS, FADA, in, 2013
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Myth: I Cant Do Anything To Change My Cholesterol Levels
Fact: You can do many things to improve your cholesterol levels and keep them in a healthy range!
- Get tested at least every 5 years .1,2 Learn more about cholesterol screenings.
- Make healthy food choices. Limit foods high in saturated fats. Choose foods naturally high in fiber and unsaturated fats. Learn more about healthy diets and nutrition at CDCs nutrition, physical activity, and obesity website.
- Be active every day. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Learn more about physical activity basics and tips.
- Dont smoke or use tobacco products. Smoking damages your blood vessels, speeds up the hardening of the arteries, and greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you dont smoke, dont start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Learn more about tobacco use and ways to quit at CDCs smoking and tobacco use website.
- Talk with your health care provider about ways to manage your cholesterol if any medicines are given to you to manage your cholesterol, take them as they are prescribed. Learn more about medicines to lower cholesterol.
- Know your family history. If your parents or other immediate family members have high cholesterol, you probably should be tested more often. You could have a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia .
Dietary Recommendations For Kids
The dietary recommendations for cholesterol are that you should keep your intake below 300 mg per day if you are healthy. You can keep an eye on your daily cholesterol intake by reading the nutrition labels on the foods you eat and by paying attention to portion control.
If you have high cholesterol levels, your MD will make special recommendations for your diet and daily cholesterol intake. A simple blood test at a doctors office can give either you or your child your blood cholesterol levels.
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What To Know About Triglycerides
In addition to cholesterol, you might hear about your triglycerides, another kind of fat found in the bloodstream. Women should pay particular attention to this. A high level of triglycerides seems to predict an even greater risk for heart disease in women compared with men, says Michos.
When you take in more calories than you need, your body converts the extra calories into triglycerides, which are then stored in fat cells. Triglycerides are used by the body for energy, but people with excess triglycerides have higher risk of medical problems, including cardiovascular disease. Drinking a lot of alcohol and eating foods containing simple carbohydrates , saturated fats and trans fats contributes to high triglycerides. High levels may also be caused by health conditions such as diabetes, an underactive thyroid, obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome or kidney disease.
Triglycerides also circulate in the bloodstream on particles that may contribute to plaque formation. Many people with high triglycerides have other risk factors for atherosclerosis, including high LDL levels or low HDL levels, or abnormal blood sugar levels. Genetic studies have also shown some association between triglycerides and cardiovascular disease.
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You Dont Need To Avoid Eggs And Seafood
Some foods are high in cholesterol but are fine to eat in moderation, as long as your overall diet is low in saturated fats. For example:
- Egg yolks a single egg yolk contains 200250 mg of cholesterol, which is almost the uppermost recommended daily intake . However, reducing egg intake is probably not important for healthy people with normal blood cholesterol levels.
- Seafood prawns and seafood contain some cholesterol, but they are low in saturated fat and also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood is a healthy food and should not be avoided just because it contains cholesterol. However, avoid fried and battered seafood.
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Overall Dietary Cholesterol Intake
Based on 2013 to 2014 NHANES survey cycle data, the estimated national population-level mean dietary cholesterol intake among adults 20 years of age or older was 293 mg/day , and the mean cholesterol density was 137 mg cholesterol per 1000 kcal energy intake . In 20132014, a total of 39% adults had dietary cholesterol intake above 300 mg/day . Compared to women, men had significantly higher total cholesterol intake and higher cholesterol density . A trend of decreased cholesterol intake with increased age was observed , but cholesterol density did not differ by age groups . Among the race-ethnicity groups, Mexican Americans had the highest cholesterol intake and highest cholesterol density, while Non-Hispanic whites consumed the least amount of cholesterol and had the lowest cholesterol density .
* p< 0.05, +p< 0.01 for comparison.
Is 199 Cholesterol Bad
What are normal cholesterol levels? We say that a total cholesterol less than 170 is good. Anything between 170 and 199 is considered borderline and anything more than 200 is considered high. The total cholesterol is the HDL, LDL and a fraction of your triglycerides another type of fat found in your blood.
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What Is A Healthy Blood Cholesterol Level
For people who have plaque in their arteries or who have other factors that put them at risk for cardiovascular disease, doctors recommend an ideal LDL level well below 70 mg/dl. For those without risk factors who have an LDL level at or above 190 mg/dl, the recommendation is to get this level down to below 100 mg/dl. People age 40 to 75 who are living with diabetes and whose LDL is at 70 or above may need medication.
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Cholesterol Vs Dietary Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is found in every cell in our body . Contrary to popular belief, not all cholesterol is bad. In fact, our bodies need cholesterol to carry out functions that help keep us healthy. It helps our bodies make hormones, synthesize vitamin D and even aids in digestion. That said, because of cholesterol’s waxy consistency, it can stick to the walls of our arteries and create a plaque build-up, which can increase our risk for heart diseases, like atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.
There are two types of cholesterol in our bodies: low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is the type that can get stuck in your blood vessels, whereas HDL cholesterol cleans out excess cholesterol and sends it to the liver to be excreted . So, if your doctor says you have high cholesterol, they likely mean that your LDL cholesterol is too high and your HDL cholesterol is too low.
Dietary cholesterol is only found in animal products, from meat to egg yolks and dairy products. It’s important to note that foods with dietary cholesterol do not directly increase our blood cholesterol levels.
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How Can I Increase My Fat Intake
Follow these tips to increase your healthy fat intake.
Lowering Cholesterol With Weight Loss
If you could stand to lose a few pounds, probably the most important number to check on the label is calories per serving.
A recent study by researchers at the University of Surrey in England showed that when volunteers cut back on calories, it didnt matter how much dietary cholesterol they consumed. Even when their diets contained up to 582 milligrams of cholesterol a day far over the recommended amount their blood cholesterol levels remained unchanged as long as they cut back on calories and lost weight.
Cholesterol in packaged foods really isnt a big issue, says McManus. Three much more important numbers on the nutrition facts panel are serving size, calories per serving, and the type of fats, says McManus. If you keep track of those, you dont have to worry about how much cholesterol a packaged food contains.
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Medication May Be Needed
For some people, diet and lifestyle changes are not enough. High blood cholesterol levels often have a genetic component. Some people inherit altered genes that cause high cholesterol and this cannot usually be changed sufficiently by lifestyle or diet.
If you are at risk of coronary heart disease and your LDL cholesterol level doesnt drop after scrupulous attention to diet, your doctor may recommend medications to force your blood LDL levels down. Cell cholesterol levels, however, remain normal, so lowering blood cholesterol has no effect on most cell metabolic processes.
Some people get muscle aches from statins, which are the most commonly used medication to lower blood cholesterol. However, diet and exercise will still be important, even if you are taking medication. Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist who treats cardiovascular disease.
Does Consuming Cholesterol Raise Cholesterol
Although it may seem logical that eating cholesterol would raise blood cholesterol levels, it usually doesnt work that way. The body tightly regulates the amount of cholesterol in the blood by controlling its production of cholesterol. When your dietary intake of cholesterol goes down, your body makes more.
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How And When To Have Your Cholesterol Checked
Getting your cholesterol levels checked is an important part of staying healthy. High cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death in the United States.
Knowing your cholesterol status can help you stay in control of your health. Learn about cholesterol screening and why it is important.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body needs to make hormones and digest fats. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs, but you can also get cholesterol from eating certain foods, such as egg yolks and fatty meats. Having high blood cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke. High blood cholesterol doesnt have symptoms, which is why getting your cholesterol levels checked is so important.
Learn more about cholesterol screenings.
You should get your cholesterol checked at least every 5 years. If you have cardiovascular risk factors, talk with your health care team about getting tested more often.
The Problem With Too Much Cholesterol
Dietary cholesterol comes primarily from sources of saturated fats, like meat and other animal-based products.
The double-whammy with cholesterol is that by eating a diet high in saturated fat intake, you consume more cholesterol, and these foods make your liver produce more cholesterol, too! This increased production and consumption turns into high cholesterol levels in the body pretty quickly.
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Ideal Total Fat Intake For Women
The amount of total fat women need is expressed as an Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range, or AMDR, which spans from the minimum amount of fat you need to stay healthy and the maximum amount you can consume without increasing your risk of chronic disease.
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, women should get between 20 and 35 percent of their total daily calories from fat.
Wondering how to calculate your calories for weight loss? to do the job and help you track your intake, so you can stay focused and achieve your goals!
Most women need 1,600 to 2,400 calories daily, depending on age and activity level. Based on a consumption of 2,000 calories daily, the AMDR translates to 400 to 700 calories from fat a day, which works out to 44 grams to 78 grams.
Heres a look at the ADMR for a range of calorie levels:
Recommended Fat Grams per Day for Women
Total Daily Calories