What is cholesterol?

Recently I had some bloodwork done, and one of the many things they checked was my cholesterol. A coworker thought my result was too low so I did a little checking. After all, I do not have the initials MD after my name. Turns out I’m just fine, as are my levels.

So, what is cholesterol? Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver and found in certain foods. It is frequently found in food made from animals, including dairy, eggs and meat. A human body must have a little cholesterol in order to produce hormones, vitamins and acids. It’s when there is too much that the body begins to have problems such as heart disease.

Cholesterol travels through your bloodstream on proteins called lipoprotein. The types of lipoproteins are defined by the protein to fat ratio. LDL stands for low density lipoprotein and HDL stands for high density protein. LDL is the bad cholesterol, and the more of it you have the stronger chance you have of having heart disease. HDL is the good cholesterol that helps fight the bad cholesterol, and the more of it that you have the better.

I have copied and pasted the current ranges for cholesterol from familydoctor.org below.

Total cholesterol level

* Less than 200 is best.
* 200 to 239 is borderline high.
* 240 or more means you’re at increased risk for heart disease.

LDL cholesterol levels

* Below 100 is ideal for people who have a higher risk of heart disease.
* 100 to 129 is near optimal.
* 130 to 159 is borderline high.
* 160 or more means you’re at a higher risk for heart disease.

HDL cholesterol levels

* Less than 40 means you’re at higher risk for heart disease.
* 60 or higher greatly reduces your risk of heart disease.

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