Maintaining a Healthy Cholesterol Range
Does the mention of cholesterol range make you nervous? Maybe you are under doctor’s orders to lower your cholesterol or you simply want to prevent the development of high cholesterol. Whatever your reason is for wanting to keep track of your cholesterol, there are a number of ways that you can go about doing so. But, before you take any action it is important to understand what cholesterol is and also what a healthy cholesterol range is.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a form of lipid, or fat, that is found in meat and that is also produced by the liver. The typical human body produces enough cholesterol to sustain itself, however this fat is found in so many foods that it would be terribly difficult to avoid taking in additional cholesterol. What many people fail to realize is that there are actually two different kinds of cholesterol: high-density lipoproteins (aka HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (aka LDL). The HDL form o cholesterol is also known as the “good” cholesterol, while LDL is often referred to as the “bad” kind. LDL cholesterol can be dangerous because too much of it can result in a buildup of cholesterol within one’s arteries that eventually hardens. This is often referred to as “plaque”. When an artery begins to harbor too much cholesterol, it can become strained as blood tries to push past the fatty buildup. Sometimes an artery can become so blocked with plaque that very little blood can pass through, which is likely to result in a heart attack. HDL cholesterol (the good kind, remember?) works to collect the cholesterol from the body’s arteries and take it back to the liver where it can be flushed from the body.
What is a good cholesterol range to aim for?
Your doctor can perform a test called a blood lipid test to determine your cholesterol count. This test will yield a total cholesterol count as well as individual HDL and LDL levels. For a total cholesterol count, 200 mg/dL or below is considered average. A total count of 200 to around 240 is considered the “borderline” area. A count between 250 and 280 is considered high, and anything above that is considered very high. Although a general cholesterol test can suggest high cholesterol, it is better to do an in-depth screening to determine which type of cholesterol is more abundant.
The average level of HDL cholesterol is around 40 mg/dL, but 60 or higher is ideal. Remember that the more HDL cholesterol one has the better off they are, as it helps to flush out the bad cholesterol from the body. Now, a low count would be anything below 40 and is considered high risk. Action should be taken immediately to increase the amount of HDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol should be kept below 100 mg/dL, although 140 – 160 is considered borderline. The 170 – 190 range is considered high and anything above 200 is very high.
What can be done to lower my cholesterol?
Your cholesterol range can be determined by many factors, such as family history of high cholesterol, activity levels, eating habits, and weight. Determining the cause behind elevated cholesterol levels is important because it enables you to work on the correct area in your life. Being overweight, having low activity levels, and eating unhealthy foods go hand-in-hand in most cases. Losing weight through exercise and a healthy, well-balanced diet is a great way to see a drop in cholesterol and an increase in overall health and energy. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have little or no cholesterol and can be a huge help in lowering cholesterol levels. Choosing healthier types of meat, such as chicken, turkey, and fish, can also produce an improvement.
One should avoid fried items and junk food as much as possible as these tend to be chock full of LDL cholesterol. Studies have shown that switching to a low-calorie diet has a significant impact on one’s cholesterol levels for the better, so this is yet another route that could be considered. Exercise, when performed 30 – 45 minutes per day 5 or 6 days a week has also been proven to helps lower cholesterol. If a change in diet and activity level doesn’t seem to have much of an impact, then it may be necessary to consider talking with a doctor about prescription medications designed to regulate cholesterol levels.