Blood Cholestrol


Cholesterol is a waxy substance that plays an important role in building cell membranes and sex hormones. Found in the lipids (fats) of the blood, the substance is also a vital component of bile. Bile, of course, is, a product of the liver that breaks down fats so that humans can digest them. Cholesterol does not dissolve in blood, and has to be carried to and from cells by lipoproteins. Although there are many kinds of lipoproteins, two are important to know about: low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).The truth is that the body has all the cholesterol it needs. Unfortunately, cholesterol is also found in certain foods, especially the high-fat variety. Consuming too much cholesterol by eating a diet high in saturated fat can cause your levels to increase dangerously. High cholesterol levels will greatly increase your chances of getting heart disease and/or having a heart attack. Coronary heart disease affects the blood vessels in your heart, restricting them so that the blood can not flow properly in and out of the heart. This leads to heart attacks. Heart disease is the number one killer of adult men and women. The reason cholesterol plays such an important role in this process is because when too much cholesterol in the blood builds up in the artery walls, it causes what is known as "hardening of the arteries". The hardened arteries become narrower so blood flow to the heart slows down or is blocked entirely. Since blood carries oxygen to the heart, slowing that flow causes a variety of problems including chest pain. A blockage to part of the heart will wreak havoc on your heart and your overall health.
Since there are no symptoms of high cholesterol, or hypercholesterolemia, most people do not know that they have this condition. Learning about your cholesterol levels is rather simple. It only requires a blood test that your primary care doctor can easily perform as part of your annual check-up. If you are one of the millions persons who has high cholesterol, there are a multitude of measures you can take to reduce those levels such as eating low fat foods, exercising, taking certain medication and reducing stress. In certain cases, medical procedures will be deemed necessary. Angioplasty opens up blocked or narrowed arteries. More than one million Americans receive this relatively safe procedure annually. Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG), which creates new routes for blood to flow by grafting a healthy artery to a blocked one, is another common surgical treatment for Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). Regular and frequent doctor’s visits are necessary. Your blood levels must be monitored. If you exercise regularly, eat right and take your prescribed medicines and supplements the prognosis is good for those living with Coronary Heart Disease. You should also learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and arrhythmia so you can seek help in a timely fashion should these complications arise.

Blood Cholestrol Tests

Why Do I Need A Blood Cholesterol Test?
Every day, tens of thousands of people across the globe get their blood cholesterol tested. A cholesterol test is done simply to check a person’s risk for heart disease. According to health experts guidelines, adults aged 20 or older should have their cholesterol tested once every 5 years. A person should get tested more frequently, if he or she possesses certain risk factors such as:

A. His/her total cholesterol is over 200 mg/DL
B. They are a male over the age of 45 or a female over the age of 50
C. Their HDL (good) cholesterol is under 40 mg/DL
D. They smoke
E. They have high blood pressure
F. They’re obese and/or sedentary
G. They have diabetes, kidney disease and/or thyroid disease, etc.

What Happens During a Blood Cholesterol Test?
The test requires that you are fasting, which means that you have had nothing to eat or drink including prescription medications for at least 9 to 12 hours before the test. If you haven’t been fasting, then only your HDL will be able to be tested.
During the procedure, the phlebotomist will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm. The entire process should only last a few minutes and the pain should be mild. After the procedure, a cotton ball and a bandage will be placed over the small puncture wound and you will be given instructions on how to collect your results.
You should be able to eat, drink and take your normal medications as soon as you return home. Your doctor will let you know when your results will be in.

What Do the Results Mean?

Of course, once you have those results, you’ll probably wonder what they mean. Your test report might look a bit confusing to you. It will show your cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter of blood (MG/dl). This determines how your cholesterol levels affect your risk of heart disease in addition to your risk factors and so forth.
A complete fasting lipoprotein profile will show you total blood (or serum) cholesterol, your HDL (good) cholesterol level, your LDL (bad) cholesterol level and your triglyceride level. Here’s the breakdown:
Total Blood Cholesterol
Less than 200 MG/dl – Desirable: If you HDL, LDL and triglycerides are also at desirable levels, then you are at a low risk of coronary heart disease. Regardless, it’s still wise to eat heart smart, exercise regularly and avoid smoking. Continue to get your cholesterol checked every five years.
200 – 239 MG/dl – Borderline – High Risk: Your doctor will need to evaluate your other levels to see where they’re at. Your HDL and triglycerides may still be normal. Either way, it’s a good idea to work on a prevention program that focuses on lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and adding in exercise. If your LDL is also at-risk, then you may need medication. Your doctor may want you to have you cholesterol levels rechecked more often.
240 MG/dl and over – High Risk: Generally, these people have twice the risk of coronary heart disease of those with a desirable level. If the test was not a full profile, your doctor will most likely order one now. You will need to work with your doctor to make lifestyle changes and possibly require medication to control your cholesterol. It’s very likely that you will require more frequent testing.

Remember that – the higher the HDL levels, the better. Low HDL cholesterol (lower than 40 MG/dl for men and 50 MG/dl for women) puts a person at a higher risk for heart disease. In most men, HDL levels range from 40 – 50 MG/dl. In the average woman, these same levels range from 50 – 60 MG/dl. Levels of over 60 MG/dl are considered to help protect an individual from heart disease.

Less than 100 MG/dl is the optimal level.
100 – 129 MG/dl is near optimal/above optimal.
130 – 159 MG/dl is borderline high.
160 – 189 MG/dl is high.
190 MG/dl and above is considered very high.

Triglycerides are a form of fat. People with high triglycerides often have high total cholesterol including high LDL (bad) cholesterol and low HDL (good) cholesterol, making it a recipe for coronary disaster.
Normal: less than 150 MG/dl
Borderline-High: 150-199 MG/dl
High: 200-499 MG/dl
Very High: 500 MG/dl

What Can I Do If My Results Aren’t Good?
Sure, we sound like a broken record here at The best things you can do if your results aren’t good are:
A. Work with your doctor on setting up a treatment plan
B. Change your lifestyle
C. Eat better
D. Exercise more
E. Take your prescribed medications
F. Reduce and/or quit smoking
G. Reduce and/or stop drinking alcohol (Doest it mean to become a better Muslim?)
H. And ______________________(you fill in the blank!)


Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the major carrier of cholesterol in the blood. LDL cholesterol is commonly known as "bad cholesterol". Too much LDL will build up with other substances along the artery walls that feed the heart and brain. They combine to form plaque (athermanous plaques), hard, thick deposits that clog the arteries. This leads to a condition called atherosclerosis.
This condition can become quite dangerous. For example, if a clot (thrombus) forms close to the plaque, it will block blood flow to parts of the heart muscle, causing myocardial infarction, or a heart attack. Basically, infarction means that the tissues the blood flow nourished and supported are now dead. Heart attacks are the number one killer of men and women world-wide.
Now, if a clot blocks blood flow to the brain, this will cause a stroke. A stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States alone. If one survives a stroke, he or she will struggle with a variety of difficulties including paralysis, vision difficulties memory loss and speech/language problems, most of which are irreversible.
Levels of LDL cholesterol must remain below 160 mg/dL unless you already have heart disease. Then, your LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL. Lower levels of LDL cholesterol are good as they lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
As a general thumb rule, LDL cholesterol levels of less than 100 mg/dL are considered optimal (best), while 100-129 mg/dL are considered near optimal. 130-159 mg/dL is considered borderline high, while 160-189 mg/dL is considered high, and levels of 190 mg/dL and above is very high levels of LDL cholesterol.


High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) carries about one-third to one-fourth of the blood cholesterol in the body. Lipoproteins move cholesterol, triglycerides and other blood fats (lipids) to various tissues.
HDL cholesterol is known as "good cholesterol" because it is believed that HDL cholesterol carries cholesterol back from the arteries, to the liver, where it is either excreted or re-used. As a result, HDL is responsible for removing excess cholesterol from athermanous plaques (accumulations and swellings within the artery walls), thus slowing their growth.
Theories suggest that higher HDL choelsterol levels (above 60mg/dL) reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, while lower HDL cholesterol levels (less than 40 mg/dL in men; less than 50 mg/dL in women) show a greater risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Some people experience higher HDL (good) cholesterol levels when they perform regular physical activity. Regular physical activity also controls weight, diabetes, and high blood pressure which will also help to reduce your risk for heart disease. Moderate to intense physical activity, performed regularly (with your doctor's approval) conditions your lungs and heart. Brisk walking, jogging, or swimming are examples of this type of physical activity. Daily moderate intensity activities reduce your risk of heart disease, such as gardening, walking, yard work, housework, and dancing, for example.
For HDL (good) cholesterol, the higher the level, the better. HDL cholesterol levels of 60 and above are best, while levels of 40 or below is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. HDL is usually tested as part of an overall profile, along with triglycerides and LDL.

Lowering Levels

Cholesterol comes from the human body, mostly the liver, and the foods we eat. The body produces approximately 1,000 milligrams per day of cholesterol which is all the body needs for good health. Therefore, cholesterol consumption from foods is not needed. Foods derived from animals such as meat, poultry, fish, seafood, egg yolks, and whole-milk dairy products contain cholesterol. Plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains don't contain any of this substance.
Saturated fatty acids are the main factor in elevating blood cholesterol level. However, trans fats and dietary cholesterol also raise levels. Some of the excess dietary cholesterol is removed through the liver, mainly through HDL cholesterol.
The American Heart Association recommends that we consume less than 300 mg (milligrams) of cholesterol daily. Of course, if you have heart disease, you should consume less than 200 mg. Remember, keeping your intake of saturated fats low will significantly lower your consumption of dietary cholesterol.
Those with severely elevated blood cholesterol levels should limit their dietary cholesterol levels even more. Great care should be taken to limit their consumption of all foods from animal sources, since they all contain cholesterol. No more than six ounces of lean meat, poultry, and fish per day should be consumed. Using fat-free and low-fat dairy products is recommended. Substitutes for animal protein sources such as beans should be considered as well.
High triglyceride levels raise heart disease risks. 150-199 mg/dL is borderline high, and levels of 200 mg/dL and above may need treatment.
If you have followed a low-saturated-fat, low-cholesterol diet, lost weight, and increased physical activity and your blood cholesterol levels are still not acceptable, then your doctor may prescribe a cholesterol lowering medication. Use of these medications do not mean that you should discontinue your low-saturated-fat, low cholesterol diet, or discontinue physical activity, or stop controlling other risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Low Cholesterol Foods
One of the best ways to lower cholesterol – and the most natural – is to follow a low cholesterol diet. Lean meats should play a major role in your low cholesterol meal plans. Red meat is fine so long as its got little to no fat. Of course, turkey and/or chicken, aka poultry, are much better options. Remove the skin before cooking (or eating) for extra benefit. Meats are important to eat because they are high in protein and contain a variety of minerals, vitamins and micronutrients that help fight off bad cholesterol.
What about seafood? While it's true that are plenty of fish and shellfish that are low in cholesterol and saturated fat, not all seafood, like meat, are good for those who have to watch their cholesterol levels. For example, shrimp and lobster, by nature, are high in cholesterol. Whereas lobster is not recommended for individuals with coronary heart disease and high cholesterol levels, the cholesterol in shrimp may actually help to bring down bad cholesterol levels, thereby making it a rather desirable and tasty alternative to meat.
Vegetables are often considered to be the healthiest food group because of their low calorie content. Did you know that they are also high in fiber? Veggies also contain nutrients which regulate a person's metabolism, helping him/her to balance their cholesterol levels better. Vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins like C,K,E and B-complex. Eating at least five servings of vegetables a day will help reduce vitamin deficiencies which lead to a variety of health problems. In addition, they reduce an individual's likelihood of developing heart disease, cancer and even high blood pressure.
Grains are great to eat because they are high in dietary fiber and starch. They are also low in saturated fat and calories. The best news is that they contain NO dietary cholesterol ... except for bakery breads and sweet bread products such as those made with milk, butter and eggs. Some tips to remember:
A. Whole grains are better than white.
B. Dry cereals such as corn and bran flakes can be very good food you.
(Steer clear of the higher fat granolas and sugar-laden commercial cereals. These will not make a good addition to your diet.)
C. Limit your consumption of baked goods.
Nuts and seeds tend to get a bad rap because they're high in fat. Many of these foods contain phytosterols, chemicals found in plants that have been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of some cancers. Sesame seeds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, almonds and many others were deemed to be potential cholesterol-reducing agents. Of course, experts suggest that these foods are eaten in moderation, probably as a snack, because they are high in calories and fat.
Finally, fruits are among the best foods on the planet to keep cholesterol levels healthy. They are low in calories, high in fiber and water content. Fruits are chock-full of vitamins and nutrients just like vegetables are. Eating at least three servings of them each day will work towards reducing one's likelihood of contracting certain illnesses.

Fruits & Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables help reduce cholesterol. In general, fruits and vegetables are fantastic foods to choose to lower your cholesterol. They have the added benefit of being low in saturated fat. Rich in essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, carbohydrates as well as photochemical, those that result from plant metabolic processes, fruits and veggies also reduce your risk for developing certain cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and more.
The goal is to try and eat at least nine servings of fruit and vegetables per day. That’s about 4 ½ cups of the good stuff. Potatoes – yes, that means French fries and chips – don’t count. Your best options have the brightest and deepest, richest colors. For example, Leafy greens are wonderful choices. They should have a permanent space on your plate.
Leafy greens include items such as Swiss chard, lettuce, spinach and kale. Then, there are cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok Choy (aka Chinese Cabbage) and mustard greens. Finally, there are citrus fruits. Oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines and grapefruits are fantastic cholesterol reducers perhaps due to the falconoid in their peels as a 2004 study suggested.
Other fruits and vegetables that would be great to try include (but are not limited to):
Apples, Pears, Nectarines, Apricots, Peaches, Plums, Bananas, Mangoes, Watermelons, Cantaloupes, Honeydew Melons, Kiwis, Strawberries, Passion fruit, Raspberries, Blueberries, Açai, Avocado, Silver beet, Cabbage, Pumpkin, Cucumber, Zucchini, Asparagus, Celery, Onion, etc.
Here 7 tips to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat each day:

   1. Keep a bowl of fruit handy both at home and at work.
   2. Include vegetables in your lunch, dinner and snacks.
   3. Buy fresh fruits that are in season. They are less expensive too.
   4. Opt for a salad instead of fries when eating fast food.
   5. Turn that baked potato into a main meal. Top it with melted cheese, broccoli, beans,    
       carrots, salsa and so forth.
   6. Enjoy a fresh fruit smoothie from the blender. Grapes, guava, mango and     
       strawberries are all great choices. Add ice and you’ve got a fantastic treat.
   7. Eat a vegetarian pizza. Include eggplant, squash, tomato slices, sweet peppers, olives,  
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