what is healthy cholesterol
what those numbers on the lab report mean
what causes high cholesterol

What is healthy cholesterol? Ever since I first learned I had high cholesterol, I have been curious about what causes high cholesterol and what the numbers mean.  In order to make a goal to lower my cholesterol, I needed to know how high was too high.  I needed to know what to do about high cholesterol.  In the beginning my studies included statin drugs which I found to be a little frightening.  Some of you may take them and that is between you and your doctor. I have chosen to lower my cholesterol naturally which was a lifestyle change for me.

what is healthy cholesterol

When your blood is tested, there will be four results that are important.  They are:

1. Total cholesterol - This is the LDL plus the HDL plus 0.2 times the triglycerides.

2. LDL cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein  - You will often hear called "bad cholesterol"      So I won't forget this, I call it Lousy lipoprotein. The L at the beginning stands for lousy (to me). You want this number to be low.  If your LDL is higher than 190 you may be at risk for heart disease.

3. HDL cholesterol - This is high-density lipoprotein which I call healthy lipoprotein. You want this number to  be high. This number needs to be higher than 70.

4. Triglycerides - These are stored in fat cells throughout our bodies. We raiser lower them by the foods and drinks we take into our bodies. If triglycerides are too high, they can contribute to heart disease, especially when your LDL cholesterol is high.

Desirable cholesterol levels

  • Total cholesterol should be less than 200
  • LDL should be less than 100 or up to 129. The lower the better
  • HDL should be at least 50 or better. Under 35 is too low.       
  • Triglycerides should be below 150
  • Cholesterol ratio: less than 5 to 1

Some people like to know their cholesterol ratio. Your lab reports may or may not include this. If not, you simply divide the total cholesterol by the LDL cholesterol. The ratio should be lower than 5 to 1.

Some of the newer research seems to be finding that the cholesterol level may not be as useful as the ratio of triglycerides to HDL. A ratio of 4 would be considered high and 2 or less would be very good. Click to see a Harvard Study on triglycerides.

contributing factors in high cholesterol
what might cause the problem

  • obesity
  • poor diet
  • smoking
  • not enough exercise
  • just plain getting older
  • heredity
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes

Remember, it is probably not what you're eating that causes high cholesterol even though you can lower cholesterol by eating healthy food.

What might solve the problem

There are so many good foods to put into your body that will help lower your cholesterol. some of them are:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • avocados
  • garlic - who knew - four cloves a day is good
  • water or water infused with fruit to replace soft drinks
  • fatty fish including salmon (yum)
  • nuts
  • oats - oatmeal, groats or any form

Sources for this page:  

  • Herbs that Heal by Moore and Doherty for Prevention Magazine
  • Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra, M.D.
  • Fasting Triglycerides, High-Density Lipoprotein, and Risk of Myocardial Infarction
  • J. Michael Gaziano, MD, MPH; Charles H. Hennekens, MD, DrPH; Christopher J. O’Donnell, MD, MPH; Jan L. Breslow, MD; Julie E. Buring, ScD