Timeless Nutrition Tip
Trying to understand the results of a cholesterol test can be very confusing, especially if you're unfamiliar with all the terms. You're bombarded with readings for such things as LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. Let's decipher what these readings mean and help clarify matters.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in the blood. There are two categories of cholesterol: blood cholesterol and dietary cholesterol. When you're having your cholesterol checked at the doctor's office, it is your blood cholesterol level that's being measured. Dietary cholesterol is found in animal-originating foods like meat, dairy products, and eggs.
Blood cholesterol cannot mix with blood for transport throughout the body. Therefore, it must attach itself to transport vehicles known as lipoproteins. There are three types of lipoproteins:
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein)
- LDL (low-density lipoprotein)
- VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein)
Your total blood cholesterol level is made up of these three components.
HDLs (high-density lipoproteins) carry cholesterol from the body tissues to the liver for disposal. HDL is often known as the "good cholesterol." High levels of HDL are associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. A healthy HDL level is considered to be greater than 35 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter).
LDLs (low-density lipoproteins) carry cholesterol from the liver to the tissues. Unfortunately, along the way, some of the cholesterol is deposited on artery walls. LDL is referred to as the "bad cholesterol," since high levels of LDL are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. A healthy LDL level is considered to be less than 130 mg/dL.
Here's one of the best arguments for daily aerobic exercise. Medical trials suggest that a daily dose of walking, biking, jogging, or swimming helps reduce the risk of heart disease, especially if that increased activity helps you lose weight. Research shows such exercise is the best way to raise HDLs, the "good" cholesterol that helps carry harmful fats out of your system.
Hope this information helps clarify some of the cholesterol confusion!