Cholesterol Numbers and Ratios Explained
So, I think I got ahead of myself on yesterday’s post on cholesterol. A big thanks to Abbey and Dr Matty G (a cardiologist) for pointing out some very important things when it comes to cholesterol. So, I thought I’d start from the beginning and give a basic rundown on cholesterol.
Cholesterol naturally occurs in the human body. This fatty substance is something you NEED. It’s produced in your liver, and also digested from the foods you eat (like animal products—plants do NOT have cholesterol). Cholesterol has been given a bad rap at times, but it performs some very important functions in our body. Among them, it aids in tissue and hormone formation, protects your nerves, and aids in digestion. What’s more, you need cholesterol to build your cells!
I mentioned yesterday the two different types of cholesterol: the Good (HDL) and the Lousy (LDL). What Abbey and Dr Matt pointed out yesterday, which I failed to mention, is that more important than the individual numbers of HDL vs LDL is the RATIO between them. THAT is what you, and your doctors, should be looking at.
So, what is total cholesterol, that one number that you get from your doctor (In Matt’s case, the 229)? Well, here’s where it gets complicated, because the total number will be more than the HDL and LDL combined.
Either a high HDL or high LDL number can increase your total cholesterol number. Now, if the number is high because of HDL, you’re not necessarily in danger. But if it’s the LDL, that’s a different story. A good level of HDL is at least 60mg/dL, with levels between 40-60 in the good range. LDL levels should be under 100mg/dL.
So how do I get the cholesterol ratio?
To find the cholesterol ratio, you divide your total cholesterol number by the HDL number. Example: Total cholesterol is 200, HDL is 50, so ratio is 4:1. The American Heart Association suggests keeping a ratio at or below 5:1. The ideal ratio is 3.5:1.
SO, does that make more sense? When your doctor gives you your cholesterol number, it’s very important to know the breakdown of HDL and LDL. Dr Matt, feel free to chime in!
Thanks to WebMd.com for assistance!
Entry filed under: nutrition.