What is an acceptable
blood cholesterol level?
recommend that a blood cholesterol level below 200 mg/dl is desirable.
Research suggests that reducing elevated levels greater than 240 mg/dl can
reduce risks of coronary heart disease and improve life expectancy. These
ranges below don’t consider your age or other risk factors, such as male
gender, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and physical inactivity.
BORDERLINE 200 -239 mg/dl
HIGH 240+ mg/dl
Institute of Health/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
Techniques to A better blood CHOLESTEROL LEVEL
lifestyle/diet changes are effective ways to reduce your blood cholesterol
- Gaining weight can increase your blood cholesterol levels. To
lose weight you should eat less and exercise more. A low fat, high fiber
eating plan can help you eliminate “empty calories.”
-Check with your physician before starting anaerobic or weight training
program. Follow their suggestions to gradually increase your program to
improve your heart health and control your weight.
• DECREASE THE FAT
IN YOUR DIET - Reduce all fats in your diet or as suggested by your
physician. Limit saturated fats, such as butter, tropical oils [coconut or
palm oils, cocoa butter, animal fats and solid type “stick” or solid
shortenings and margarines. Fats are often hidden in processed foods like
snack foods and bakery products so read the ingredient label to identify
sources of fat and saturated fat.
• INCREASE "SOLUBLE"
FIBER - Plant foods high in soluble fiber have been shown to help
lower blood cholesterol levels. They are often found in fruits, vegetables,
beans, legumes and oats may help lower blood cholesterol.
• MODERATE DIETARY
CHOLESTEROL INTAKE - Cutting saturated fat intake will substantially
lower cholesterol intake as well. Many experts believe that dietary
cholesterol is the least important factor affecting your blood cholesterol
DEFINING THE MEDICAL
Cholesterol is found in all animal tissues (meat, poultry, fish, milk
products and egg yolks). It’s not found in foods of plant origin, such as
fruits and grains. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is needed to
make cell membranes, vitamin D, and produce hormones. About 80% of your
blood cholesterol is produced by your liver and approximately 20% is
influenced by dietary factors, such as a high fat, high calorie diet.
Fat is the most concentrated source of food energy that is needed to
provide energy and help absorb certain vitamins. It contains 9 calories per
gram, two and half times as much as both protein and carbohydrate [4
calories per gram]. Hidden sources of fat include ice cream, fast foods,
well-marbled meats, poultry skin, whole milk, cheese, nuts, salad dressings
and many convenience items.
Fats may be either saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. All
dietary fats are made up of mixtures of these three fatty acid types.
Saturated fats are known to raise blood cholesterol levels.
These fats are found in foods of animal origin, such as whole milk,
cream, cheese, butter, meat and poultry. It’s also found in large quantities
in some vegetable oils, including coconut, palm, and palm kernel oil.
Monounsaturated fats tend to decrease blood cholesterol levels and may
decrease LDL-cholesterol levels when substituted for saturated fats in the
diet. They are found in fats of both plant and animal origin. Olive oil and
peanut oil are examples of fats with mostly monounsaturated fats.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids tend to lower blood cholesterol levels.
Sunflower, corn, soybean, cottonseed, safflower and canola oils are
vegetable fats that generally contain a high proportion of polyunsaturated
Since cholesterol is not soluble, it must attach itself to a soluble
protein. Called a lipoprotein, this package carries cholesterol through the
body. Excess cholesterol in the lipoprotein can be deposited along artery
walls, where it can harden and narrow the arteries, reducing blood flow.
This protein package contains the greatest percentage of cholesterol> I and
is considered the most dangerous. LDL-cholesterol carries cholesterol to the
arteries, where an excess amount of cholesterol can clog them.
package contains the smallest amount of cholesterol and is considered "heart
protective" HDL-cholesterol carries cholesterol away from the body cells to
the liver, where cholesterol is removed from the body.