You fasted all night long in order to make it to the lab for your cholesterol test. You have put off having breakfast, temporarily skipped your coffee, and are awaiting your results. Perhaps you have a strong family history of high cholesterol? Maybe you’re already on a statin drug to lower your numbers? Feeling a little nervous as you ate that doughnut yesterday and had pizza all weekend? Here are some tips to remember when reading your cholesterol test.
1) Cholesterol is actually quite important. It keeps your cell membranes nice and pliable, surrounds your nerve fibers, and is the precursor to your hormones. You need cholesterol.
2) High Density Lipoprotein, or HDL, is considered your “good” cholesterol because it takes cholesterol from your body and carries it back to your liver for processing. It pulls the cholesterol out of your bloodstream reducing your risk for heart disease. You want this level to be above 50 mg/dl for protection sake.
3) Low Density Lipoprotein, or LDL, is considered your “bad” cholesterol because it takes cholesterol from your liver and carries it out into your blood stream and deposits it throughout your body. This can increase your risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease. You want this number under 100 mg/dl.
4) To increase your HDL, start exercising and I mean NOW! This single handedly can bring your levels up into the healthy range. Eat healthy oils such as avocado and olive oil. Eliminate fried, trans fats and get much more fiber into your diet (30-50grams/day). Eat cold-water fish such as salmon and/or take a good quality fish oil that has been screened for rancidity, pesticides, herbicides and all of that other junk. Lastly, stop smoking. Don’t even do it socially or if you’re out for a drink.
5) To lower your LDL levels, see number 4 but especially focus on the exercise, weight loss, and the fiber aspect of your diet.
6) Unless you have familial hypercholesterolemia (meaning it really runs in your family) then your high cholesterol is probably your fault. The great thing is you can do something about it besides taking a cholesterol lowering drug. Please act preventively.