Cholesterol Levels and How to Reduce Your Cholesterol Numbers
It is said that half of all American adults (age 20+) have high cholesterol. For the average healthy adult, the following numbers provide a guideline of what we should aim for when looking at our cholesterol and triglyceride levels:
- Total cholesterol under 200
- HDL (“good” cholesterol) above 45
- LDL (“bad” cholesterol) below 130 (below 100 is best)
- Triglyceride level 150 mg/dL or less
(For guidelines on healthy, borderline, and high cholesterol levels in children and teenagers (2 to 19 years old), see Cholesterol in Children.)
Some things that may help to reduce your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol number and/or increase your HDL (“good”) cholesterol number, as well as positively affect your triglyceride level in some cases, include:
- Aerobic exercise, 30-60 minutes, 3-4 times a week
- Eat more fish (see Grilled Halibut Steak Marinade Recipe for an absolutely delicious recipe)
- Soluble fiber (vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains)
- Avoid smoking
- Limit carbohydrates
- Limit/avoid alcohol
- Substitute olive oil and canola oil in place of butter and margarine
In line with the above, limit your intake of saturated fats – The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats to 7 to 10 percent (or less) of total calories per day. Also, limit your intake of trans-fatty acids (TFA). Nutritional labels on products are now required to list trans fat. Limiting your intake of saturated fat will limit your intake of TFA as well.
Medication may be indicated if your blood cholesterol level is high. Drug therapy carries its own risks; your doctor should be able to provide information and recommendations in this area.
See your physician to have a fasting lipoprotein profile done which includes testing for HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. It is recommended that healthy adult have a blood cholesterol screening test at least every five years. More often if you are a man over 45, a woman over 55, have an existing and known cholesterol problem, or are otherwise at risk for high cholesterol.
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