Cholesterol is so often talked about these days, and almost always with a negative slant. But it’s vital for cell membrane production, hormone production, Vitamin D production, Bile production and more.
Cholesterol is found in every cell in your body. There are two types, one is good and the other is not. High-density lipoprotein actually helps you prevent heart disease by helping to keep cholesterol away from your arteries and also in helping remove excess arterial plaque. Low-density lipoprotein on the other hand, is what builds up in your arteries and can develop into plaque. This plaque can then narrow your arteries and develop into a clot. When this goes to your heart, it can cause a heart attack. If it goes to your brain, it can cause a stroke.
In looking at your cholesterol numbers, total cholesterol is the sum of your blood’s cholesterol content. This includes both high density and low density lipoproteins and also very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). You will also find Triglycerides and Lipoprotein (a) or LP (a) in your counts.
Triglycerides can lead to diabetes and heart disease if the levels of this fat are too elevated.
Lipoprotein (a) or LP (a) may also increase your risk of heart disease if you have high levels.
However, unless your total cholesterol level is above 330 mg/dL the total cholesterol number is generally worthless in determining any risks of heart disease.
You can get a much better idea about your risks of heart disease by looking at your HDL/Cholesterol ratio. You get this by dividing your HDL level by your total cholesterol. If that is at or above 24% you’re in the ideal percentage. Under 10% suggests you have a significant risk of heart disease.
The other figure you want to calculate is your Triglyceride/HDL ratio. You get this by dividing your triglycerides by your HDL level. You’d ideally like to have this below 2.
You don’t want your mg/dL levels to ever be under 150 mg/dL.