The most important factor in determining the risk of heart disease and a cardiovascular factor is cholesterol. The liver synthesizes cholesterol, a lipid that can be found in most cells in the body. Plaque deposits from this fatty substance can accumulate in the walls of arteries and trigger a “hardening of the arteries’ or arteriosclerosis.
In order to know if your cholesterol levels are normal or not, you need to have a blood test or lipid test. Elevated cholesterol levels are also recognized with genetic diseases, liver and kidney disease, and hypothyroidism. High-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) are three major kinds of cholesterol that need to be monitored. The total cholesterol / HDL ratio is also checked to make sure it is within normal levels.
HDL, or good cholesterol, should be between 29 and 72 with an optimal range of 45 to 85. This form of cholesterol protects against heart disease and actually removes excess deposits from arteries. Once collected, it transports it back to the liver to be excreted. Therefore, it is good to have high HDL levels.
Normal levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol, ranging from 60 to 130. However, medical professionals would like to see the number of LDL below 100 and lower in those who are at higher risk of heart disease. VLDL should also be kept as low as possible. VLDL cholesterol range should be between 5 and 40, with an optimum of 5 to 30. Depending on your risk, your doctor will give you guidelines that are best suited for your body.
By adding your HDL, LDL and 0.2 x Triglycerides (another type of fat in the body), you get your total cholesterol level (TC). Total cholesterol should always be below 200. For people with high cholesterol and consequently with an increased risk of heart disease, the optimal goal is 160. Greater accumulation of cholesterol plaque corresponds to higher cholesterol levels in the blood.
The buildup of plaque in the arteries feeding the heart can cause a heart attack, while if the arteries that feed the brain are blocked, it can cause a stroke.
It is important to check the TC / HDL ratio, measuring the relationship between hazardous and protective cholesterol. This ratio represents the overall risk of heart disease. Optimally, this ratio should be below 3.4.
Diet plays a critical role in maintaining normal levels of cholesterol. While only 25% of your cholesterol is absorbed in the diet, the body produces 75% of the rest. Our diet continues to play a key role in maintaining good blood lipids and a healthy heart. Saturated fats and trans fatty acids are the biggest contributors to high total cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats help reduce total cholesterol, while monounsaturated fats help not only the total cholesterol but also increases HDL cholesterol.
What is the ideal cholesterol level for women?
The normal total cholesterol level for women is less than 200 mg/dl. Close to the limit levels are 200-239 mg/dl, and levels above 240 mg/dl are considered high. HDL levels of 60 mg/dl protect against heart disease, while women with lower levels of 50 mg/dl are at risk. LDL cholesterol levels are the most important in determining risk. If women have heart disease or are at high risk, her LDL should be kept below 70 mg/dl. If she is healthy, normal LDL levels are 100-129 mg/dl. LDL over 160 mg/dl is considered high.
Healthy cholesterol for children
Cholesterol is measured in mg per dl blood. According to practitioners, the acceptable total cholesterol in children 2-19 years of age level is less than 170 mg/dl. LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 110 mg/dl, HDL should be 35 mg/dl or more, but preferably 60, and triglycerides should be 150 mg/dl or less.
Cholesterol levels during pregnancy
Pregnancy is a time when the body changes are notable in a woman, not only in the external form as the developing baby increase but also in its internal system. Increases in blood volume and blood pressure may rise to accommodate extra fluids. Glucose levels may increase. Cholesterol levels can be affected during pregnancy.
Cholesterol levels in the pregnant population should not be below 200 mg/dl to keep down the risk of heart disease. Cholesterol levels are considered average a little high between 200 and 239 mg/dl and higher over 240 mg/dl. Pregnancy can cause your cholesterol levels previously at healthy ranges to rise, which is a normal occurrence that is not necessarily a concern. The doctor will determine if the readings put you at risk for health problems during pregnancy.
4 tips for eating well
The American Heart Association and the American Dietetic Association recommend consuming only 30% of the daily calories from fat; and follow a good diet, exercise and ensure a healthy life without inactivity, to prevent high cholesterol.
1. Choose products with vegetable fat. Try to lower your intake of animal fats.
2. Avoid foods that come from animal fats like butter, whole milk, fried seafood, among others.
3. Increase your fiber intake, such as green leafy vegetables, fruits, and grains.
4. Choose products with whole grains and root vegetables.