What is High Cholesterol?

Too much cholesterol in the blood is called high blood cholesterol. Doctors typically order a lipoprotein panel, also called a lipid profile, to determine your standing. The test measures three forms of fat in the blood:

  • Low-density lipoproteins (LDL): “bad” cholesterol, the primary source of your body’s cholesterol. High levels of LDL in the blood can lead to atherosclerosis and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. LDL’s purpose is to carry cholesterol to the cells which can build up in the walls of your arteries.

  • High-density lipoproteins (HDL): “good” cholesterol that carries cholesterol away from your cells and blood vessel walls to your liver to be removed from the body.

  • Triglycerides: the free fatty acids transported in the blood and used as energy. A combination of high triglycerides, low HDL, and high LDL can increase your risk for heart attack or stroke.

 

Experts recommend a total cholesterol level below 200 mg/dL. The following chart describes the different categories cholesterol levels fall within.

Total Cholesterol Level                                               Category

Less than 200mg/dL                                                    Desirable

200-239 mg/dL                                                              Borderline high

240mg/dL and above                                                   High

 

LDL (Bad) Cholesterol Level                                      LDL Cholesterol Category

Less than 100mg/dL                                                    Optimal

100-129mg/dL                                                               Near optimal/above optimal

130-159 mg/dL                                                              Borderline high

160-189 mg/dL                                                              High

190 mg/dL and above                                                  Very High

HDL (Good) Cholesterol Level                                   HDL Cholesterol Category

Less than 40 mg/dL                                                      A major risk factor for heart disease

40—59 mg/dL                                                                 The higher, the better

60 mg/dL and higher                                                    Considered protective against heart disease

What to Do to Keep Your Cholesterol in Control?

To keep your cholesterol levels in check, I strongly recommend a raw food diet. Vegetarians typically have significantly lower cholesterol levels than omnivores, and vegans usually have the lowest. If a raw food diet is not realistic for you, do your best to avoid processed foods and eat a lot of leafy greens, healthy nuts, and vegetable oils such as flaxseed. Look out for partially hydrogenated oils on your nutrition labels; even if a package says “0 grams of trans fat” it can still have up to 0.5 g of trans fats in every serving. Try to reduce or eliminate your consumption of saturated fat and cook with extra virgin olive oil.

One of the most delicious ways to regularly cleanse your body of excess cholesterol is to eat more fiber. Research indicates bile acids, which are synthesized from cholesterol, bind to soluble fiber in the intestines. This bound bile is later eliminated from the colon, and more cholesterol must be pulled from the blood to synthesize more bile. Eat foods high in soluble fiber such as oats, whole grains, beans, and citrus fruits to lower your cholesterol.