Cholesterol is a substance we hear about almost everyday. It’s in the news and it’s often one of the items that our doctor talks to us about when we have a physical and/or blood test.
In simple terms, here’s what it is and why it is important. Cholesterol is a form of fat that is produced by our bodies and also taken in from many of the foods we eat. For health discussion purposes, it is generally referred to as HDL’s (high density lipoproteins) and LDL’s (low density lipoproteins). HDL’s are considered to be “good” fats, and you want to see blood test results that show your HDL’s to be above 40 mg/dL. LDL’s are considered to be “bad” fats, and on a blood test you want those to be under 100 mg/dL. An acceptable target for total cholesterol is under 200mg/dL, with numbers around 160 being considered even better.
LDL’s can form plaque on the inside of our arteries, which can lead to various problems including stroke and heart attack. HDL’s appear to help carry LDL’s out of the blood to the liver where they can be disposed of safely.
Triglycerides are another type of fat found in the body. They are often talked about in relation to cholesterol. Generally, people with high levels of triglycerides have high levels of LDL’s too. Triglyceride levels should be under 160 mg/dL.
©2005 Thomas D. Manfredi, MS
Online fitness coach Tom Manfredi is the creator of the site fitness-after-50.com [http://www.fitness-after-50.com/] He has a master’s degree in exercise physiology and over 20 years of practical exercise experience.
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