Is cholesterol a good thing or a bad thing?

Most people think cholesterol is a bad thing. It is not! Cholesterol is a lipid and plays an extremely important role in the human body. Hormones, certain vitamins and for fat metabolism necessary bile acids are produced out of cholesterol. Cholesterol is a component of all cell membranes and it is also extremely important for the functioning of the immune system. Humans and animals cannot exist without cholesterol.

Navigation:
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol levels
Normal cholesterol levels
High cholesterol levels
Symptoms of high cholesterol
LDL cholesterol
HDL cholesterol
Good and bad cholesterol
Normal cholesterol chart
How to lower cholesterol?
High cholesterol foods to avoid
Foods that lower cholesterol

Keywords: cholesterol, bad cholesterol, good cholesterol, hdl, ldl, symptoms of high cholesterol, cholesterol levels, normal cholesterol, cholesterol levels chart

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is essential for the normal functioning of the body. Is an integral part of cell membranes and is involved in the formation of hormones, vitamin D, bile acids and other important substances. It is also crucial for the functioning of the brain.

cholesterol in blood Cholesterol is an essential substance and is extremely important for your organism, problems arise only if the cholesterol levels are too high.

Cholesterol is an essential substance, but can be dangerous if the levels of cholesterol are too high! Despite the important functions of cholesterol caution must be taken to preserve values of cholesterol ​​within normal limits. Your body produces almost all the cholesterol it needs.

Cholesterol circulates in the blood vessels but can not travel alone. Like water repels oil, blood repels cholesterol (because of its waxyness). Cholesterol travels around with the help of lipoproteins.

Cholesterol levels

Normal cholesterol level is anything below 200 mg/dl (5 mmol/l) for men and women, or below 160 mg/dl (4 mmol/l) for patients with cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

Normal HDL cholesterol level is above 40 mg/dl (1,1 mmol/l) for men and above 50 mg/dl (1,3 mmol/l) for women.

Normal LDL cholesterol level is below 100 mg/dl (3 mmol/l) for men and women, and below 75 mg/dl (2 mmol/l) for patients who suffer from cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

Normal triglycerides level is anything below 150 mg/dl (1,7 mmol/l) for men and women.

Europe (mmol/l):
Normal cholesterol level is anything under 5 mmol/l.
Normal HDL cholesterol level is anything above 1,1 mmol/l.
Normal LDL cholesterol level is anything below 3 mmol/l.
Normal triglycerides level is anything below 1,7 mmol/l.
USA (mg/dl):
Normal cholesterol level is anything under 200 mg/dl.
Normal HDL cholesterol level is anything above 40 mg/dl.
Normal LDL cholesterol level is anything below 100 mg/dl.
Normal triglycerides level is anything below 150 mg/dl

Good and bad cholesterol

There is no such thing as good and bad cholesterol, but the difference is actually in lipoproteins that carry cholesterol. Cholesterol in the blood is carried by the two main types of lipoproteins:

Low-density lipoproteins or LDL (low density lipoprotein), also called “bad” cholesterol, which carries cholesterol from the liver to the tissues and arteries. The majority of cholesterol in the blood is in the form of LDL. The higher the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood, the more you are exposed to cardiovascular and coronary pathologies diseases.

High-density lipoproteins, or HDL (high density lipoprotein), also called “good” cholesterol, which carries cholesterol from the tissues and arteries to the liver and therefore remove cholesterol from your body. The higher the level of HDL cholesterol in the blood the better. High density of HDL cholesterol in your blood can help prevent cardiovascular and coronary diseases (prevents the formation of deposits of cholesterol in vascular walls).

Normal cholesterol chart

Below you can find normal cholesterol chart for men and women. Values are in mmol/l and mg/dl.

Normal cholesterol chart
Recommended target blood fat levels are: Men Women Patients with cardiovascular disease or diabetes
Total cholesterol: less than 5 mmol/l (200 mg/dl) less than 5 mmol/l (200 mg/dl) less than 4 mmol/l (154 mg/dl)
LDL cholesterol: less than 3 mmol/l (116 mg/dl) less than 3 mmol/l (116 mg/dl) less than 2 mmol/l (77 mg/dl)
Triglycerides: less than 1.7 mmol/l (150 mg/dl) less than 1.7 mmol/l (150 mg/dl) less than 1.7 mmol/l (150 mg/dl)
HDL cholesterol: more than 1.1 mmol/l (97 mg/dl) more than 1.3 mmol/l (115 mg/dl) more than 1.1 or 1.3 mmol/l (97 or 115 mg/dl)

Acceptable total cholesterol levels:

Acceptable total cholesterol levels
Acceptable total cholesterol levels Acceptable total cholesterol levels mg/dl
5 mmol/l 193 mg/dl
4,9 mmol/l 189 mg/dl
4,8 mmol/l 185 mg/dl
4,7 mmol/l 181 mg/dl
4,6 mmol/l 177 mg/dl
4,5 mmol/l 174 mg/dl
4,4 mmol/l 170 mg/dl
4,3 mmol/l 166 mg/dl
4,2 mmol/l 162 mg/dl
4,1 mmol/l 158 mg/dl
4 mmol/l 154 mg/dl
3,9 mmol/l 150 mg/dl
3,8 mmol/l 146 mg/dl
3,7 mmol/l 143 mg/dl
3,6 mmol/l 139 mg/dl
3,5 mmol/l 135 mg/dl
3,4 mmol/l 131 mg/dl
3,3 mmol/l 127 mg/dl
3,2 mmol/l 123 mg/dl
3,1 mmol/l 119 mg/dl
3,0 mmol/l 116 mg/dl
2,9 mmol/l 112 mg/dl
2,8 mmol/l 108 mg/dl
2,7 mmol/l 104 mg/dl
2,6 mmol/l 100 mg/dl
2,5 mmol/l 96 mg/dl
2,4 mmol/l 92 mg/dl
2,3 mmol/l 88 mg/dl
2,2 mmol/l 85 mg/dl
2,1 mmol/l 81 mg/dl
2,0 mmol/l 77 mg/dl

Cholesterol levels chart

Acceptable LDL cholesterol levels

Acceptable LDL cholesterol levels
Acceptable LDL cholesterol levels mmol/l Acceptable LDL cholesterol levels mg/dl
3,0 mmol/l 116 mg/dl
2,9 mmol/l 112 mg/dl
2,8 mmol/l 108 mg/dl
2,7 mmol/l 102 mg/dl
2,6 mmol/l 100 mg/dl
2,5 mmol/l 96 mg/dl
2,4 mmol/l 92 mg/dl
2,3 mmol/l 88 mg/dl
2,2 mmol/l 85 mg/dl
2.1 mmol/l 81 mg/dl
2,0 mmol/l 77 mg/dl
1,9 mmol/l 73 mg/dl
1,8 mmol/l 69 mg/dl
1,7 mmol/l 65 mg/dl
1,6 mmol/l 61 mg/dl
1,5 mmol/l 58 mg/dl
1,4 mmol/l 54 mg/dl
1,3 mmol/l 50 mg/dl
1,2 mmol/l 46 mg/dl
1,1 mmol/l 42 mg/dl
1 mmol/l 38 mg/dl

LDL cholesterol levels chart

Acceptable HDL cholesterol levels

Acceptable HDL cholesterol levels
Acceptable HDL cholesterol levels mmol/l Acceptable HDL cholesterol levels mg/dl
3,0 mmol/l 116 mg/dl
2,9 mmol/l 112 mg/dl
2,8 mmol/l 108 mg/dl
2,7 mmol/l 102 mg/dl
2,6 mmol/l 100 mg/dl
2,5 mmol/l 96 mg/dl
2,4 mmol/l 92 mg/dl
2,3 mmol/l 88 mg/dl
2,2 mmol/l 85 mg/dl
2.1 mmol/l 81 mg/dl
2,0 mmol/l 77 mg/dl
1,9 mmol/l 73 mg/dl
1,8 mmol/l 69 mg/dl
1,7 mmol/l 65 mg/dl
1,6 mmol/l 61 mg/dl
1,5 mmol/l 58 mg/dl
1,4 mmol/l 54 mg/dl
1,3 mmol/l 50 mg/dl
1,2 mmol/l 46 mg/dl
1,1 mmol/l 42 mg/dl
1 mmol/l 38 mg/dl

HDL cholesterol levels chart

High cholesterol

When there is too much cholesterol in the blood (hypercholesterolaemia) the excessive cholesterol starts to accumulate on the arterial walls. Hypercholesterolemia is one of the most threatening factors for the rapid development of atherosclerosis.

High cholesterol levels in mmol/l and mg/dl
High cholesterol levels High cholesterol levels
5.1 mmol/l 200 mg/dl
5.2 mmol/l 204 mg/dl
5.3 mmol/l 208 mg/dl
5.4 mmol/l 213 mg/dl
5.5 mmol/l 216 mg/dl
5.6 mmol/l 220 mg/dl
5.7 mmol/l 223 mg/dl
5.8 mmol/l 228 mg/dl
5.9 mmol/l 232 mg/dl
6.0 mmol/l 236 mg/dl
6.1 mmol/l 240 mg/dl
6.2 mmol/l 244 mg/dl
6.3 mmol/l 250 mg/dl
6.4 mmol/l 252 mg/dl
6.5 mmol/l 256 mg/dl
6.6 mmol/l 260 mg/dl
6.7 mmol/l 264 mg/dl
6.8 mmol/l 268 mg/dl
6.9 mmol/l 270 mg/dl
above 7 mmol/l above 274 mg/dl

Usually the reasons for increased concentration of cholesterol in the blood are too high dietary intake, various diseases (eg diabetes, thyroid disease) or certain medicines. Especially severe hypercholesterolemia is caused by a genetic defect. Such hypercholesterolemia can be deadly for children also – danger of cardiac arrest.

The amount of cholesterol in blood should be carefully controlled. It is best to measure cholesterol yearly. The formation and removal of cholesterol from the body is normally adjusted in a healthy person so that there is no accumulation. HDL levels should be high, LDL levels should be low. Such condition indicates a healhty individual. For more information, see above chart on cholesterol levels.

Symptoms of high cholesterol

There are no visible or invisible symptoms of high cholesterol. A patient with high cholesterol does not feel any changes that is why it is important to measure cholesterol levels frequently.

What you can do is you can go to your personal doctor and ask for measurement in the laboratory. You social security should cover this. You can also buy your own cholesterol meter and do the measurements by yourself. You can also visit a self-pay lab where you can get all 4 values (total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides) ​​measured for little money.

How to lower cholesterol?

You can lower cholesterol by following useful tips provided below.

Eating healthy food
Eat food that provides adequate nutrition. Your diet should contain as little saturated fatty acids as possible. Saturated fatty acids are mostly found in meat and meat products, full fat cheese and whole milk, margarine, fried foods and salty snacks. Replace these bad fats with good ones (unsaturated fatty acids), which are found in olives and olive oil, nuts, fish (such as salmon and mackerel) or seeds (flaxseeds).

Regular physical activity
As an effective preventive measure, experts advise regular physical activity. Recent studies show that exercise reduces the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) in blood and on the other hand also contributes to higher values ​​of good cholesterol (HDL). It is advised to exercise at least half an hour per day. If you don’t like sports, make sure you take a half hour walk every day.

Maintain healthy body weight.
A very important measure to reduce cholesterol levels is to reduce excessive weight and maintain a normal body weight. Losing a few extra pounds (5 to 10% of body weight) has a positive impact not only on the concentration of fat in your blood, but also positively impacts regulation of blood pressure and blood sugar. Use this tool to calculate your ideal body weight: BMI calculator.

Say goodbye to bad habits
You should reduce excessive alcohol consumption and / or smoking. Try not to be exposed to stress or find some relaxation techniques like yoga or get yourself a hobby.

Consume dietary supplements
Many drug stores offer products that naturally reduce blood cholesterol levels. Such supplements usually contain plant sterols (ie sterols derived from vegetable oils). Fish oil is another example of dietary supplement good for lowering cholesterol because it contains a lot of omega 3 fatty acids, which are good for lowering cholesterol levels.

Drugs for lowering cholesterol
If above tips are not enough to keep your cholesterol levels within acceptable limits, you should consult your doctor who will most likely prescribe you drugs for lowering cholesterol. In general there are four groups of cholesterol lowering drugs. These are fibrates, statins, inhibitors of cholesterol absorption and ion exchangers.

Such drugs must be taken regularly and usually trough whole life, because studies show that the treatment is not successful if patient is taking drugs only for a short period of time or only occasionally. If you have been prescribed with one of the drugs for lowering cholesterol you should still follow the rules of healthy eating, be physicaly active and abandon bad habits.

High cholesterol foods

About two-thirds of cholesterol which is present in blood is produced by liver, the remaining cholesterol is provided by eating cholesterol rich food. Cholesterol is found in foods of animal origin: meat, ham, sausages, sausages, liver, and other meat products, egg yolks (while whites do not contain cholesterol), shrimp and dairy products like butter, cream and cheese. Try to avoid these foods if you have high cholesterol levels.

Keep in mind that the recommended intake of cholesterol with food is no more than 200 mg (0.007 oz) per day.

Foods for lowering cholesterol

Problems may arise if cholesterol levels are too high. Below you can find some healthy foods that lower cholesterol levels naturally.

Walnuts and hazelnuts
Nuts contain a lot of unsaturated fats, vitamin E and magnesium. Nuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which also affect the health of blood vessels. Because this food is very rich in calories enjoy it in smaller quantities.

Garlic
Garlic has many healing effects and besides all it lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, risk of blood clots and acts as an excellent antioxidant. One clove of garlic per day is advised.

Avocado
Among all kinds of fruit the amount of fat is highest in avocados. Three-quarters of fat found in avocado is non saturated fat. Avocados contain oleic acid, which helps lowering cholesterol and is an ideal food for those who cannot consume fat of animal origin.

Blueberries
Due to its high content of antioxidants, blueberries will help lower high cholesterol.

Fish
Fish are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL). Include fish meat in your diet at least twice a week. Healthiest fish are sardines, salmon, mackerel and trout. Find out more in this article: Fish meat is super food!

Flaxseed
Results of the survey, which was conducted at Iowa State University in USA have shown that a daily intake of three tablespoons of flaxseed (oil) reduces high cholesterol by 10 percent in three months. Flaxseed is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and also contains magnesium, manganese, iron, and vitamin E.

Olives and olive oil
Olive oil contains just the right combination of antioxidants that reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) and leaves harmless cholesterol (HDL) intact. Doctors advise to eat two tablespoons of olive oil per day.

For more information on foods that lower cholesterol levels see this article High cholesterol diet foods list.

About author:
Matej Gololicic >> @Healthiack >> Facebook page
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6 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Phil Bourque August 29, 2013 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    You are right that Cholesterol is important. You are incorrect that one needs to avoid saturated fats. It depends on the source of the saturated fat and how the animals were fed, but even then they are preferable to most vegetable oils. If you are going to comment on something as important as cholesterol and health, you owe it to yourself and your followers to read “The Great Cholesterol Con” by Anthony Colpo.

    Phil

    • Healthiack August 30, 2013 at 8:29 am - Reply

      Thank you for your remark.
      We are not saying one should totally avoid saturated fats. But the fact is that most people consume too much of saturated fats already in their usual diet and there is no need to consume more of it – they should even lower the intake of saturated fats. Maybe this wasn’t emphasized in our article.

  2. benu October 24, 2013 at 11:15 am - Reply

    When i read about exercise and low cholesterol, i was pretty impressed with the actual reason behind it that i would like to mention here. First thing is exercise makes you lose extra weight which is the biggest risk factor of increased bad cholesterol levels. And another key point is physical activity actually activates our body organs which helps with the flow of bad cholesterol from blood vessels to the liver easy and hence it gets excreted out.

  3. Dr Bruce White PhD November 23, 2013 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    I discovered that a change of diet made all the difference to lowering my bad cholesterol. The Trawler Diet allowed me to drop my bad cholesterol naturally (and in only 12 weeks).

  4. Atteq ur Rehman June 13, 2014 at 10:50 am - Reply

    Sir,
    I check in hospital my cholesterol LDL 157 , HDL 46, Total cholesterol 213 & Triglycerides 113 how to reduce the LDL.

  5. MG August 19, 2014 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    My cholesterol was 265, but my HDL was 97. My mom’s sisters have had the same numbers for years and they are now 84 and 90 years old. Dr. Oz said if you have a high HDL like that you don’t need to worry about a little high cholesterol. What’s the truth on all this? Do I have to worry?

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