Cholesterol is a part of fat which has a bad Rep. Actually it’s an essential building block for the cell membranes. Every cell in our body needs this in order to function. Aside from this, Cholesterol has a part in the creation of multiple hormones.
Cholesterol is also a precursor to Vitamin D which helps with the recovery of muscle tissue, regulation of inflammation and it supports the immune system …. so it’s pretty essential for us.
- In the US, 73.5 million adults suffer from high “bad” LDL levels (30.1%)
- 1 out of 3 has their situation under control, usually with the use of medication
- People with high cholesterol have around 50% more chance of heart disease.
The Good, the Bad, The Ugly
We might need to acknowledge the good part of Cholesterol, not just the bad. Structurally, cholesterol is a fat particle bound to proteins and transported through the body. There are multiple kinds of these “transport wagons” but we’ll limit ourselves to the well-known LDL and HDL.
LDL is the so-called “Bad Guy“. It transports cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. A low amount of LDL is needed to help repair tissue damage but these parts can get “Stuck” in the arteries and have negative effects, such as high blood pressure and blockages, eventually increasing the risk of stroke.
HDL is the cholesterol “good guy“. It takes LDL away from the body and transports it back to the liver where it’s broken down.
If you ever get your blood checked (you should), these are the number to look for:
-Ideally, should be lower than 5.0 (mmol/l)
-5.0-6.4 Slightly increased
-6.5 – 7.9 Increased
-> 8.0 Strongly increased.
LDL levels: < 2.5 is optimal
HDL levels: < 0.9 is too low
Triglycerides (amount of fatty acids in the blood, often measured in the same package ) : > 2,1 too high
What actually matters: the Cholesterol Ratio
This is the relationship between the “good and the bad” of cholesterol. If you have a high level of LDL with a low amount of HDL, that’s not good.
If it’s the other way around, there’s no need to worry, even if your LDL is slightly increased. The higher levels of HDL will take that away and back to the liver. Make sure your ratio is in check!
Calculation of the Ratio is done like this: HDL + LDL Divided by HDL. In most cases, however, it’s already calculated for you on the result sheet.
As long as the value is under 5, you’re fine. but the lower the better!
Below you can see my latest bloodwork. My results can be interpreted as this:
Cholesterol: slightly high. No need to worry yet, let’s take a look at the HDL and the Ratio, remember?
HDL: 97 mg/dl = 2.50842 mmol/l. The value should be higher than 0.9 so this is a great level.
: 123 mg/dl = 3.18078 mmol/l. The value is slightly high, but my HDL compensates for that.
Ratio: (2.50842 + 3.18078 / 2.50842 = 2.24 ) which is a great value
Cholesterol can be a silent killer and yet can be easily controlled through diet. Being aware of your levels and being proactive in managing them can increase your quality and quantity of life. Aside from that, it can save you a lifelong of statins, but more on that next time.
Let me know if this was helpful and any questions are welcomed!
And if you need some one-on-one time for me to sit down with you and help you out, book a session