What Should Your Cholesterol Level Really Be?
People are constantly being told about cholesterol and cholesterol levels: what is good, what is bad, what to eat, what not to eat, etc.
So…what should your cholesterol goal be?
Principally because of a diet high in animal based foods, the average total cholesterol for adult Americans is about 200 mg/dL, even though 30 million Americans are on medication to lower cholesterol! Without all of those pills that number would be in the stratosphere! This is a key indicator that too many of us are indeed, sick. Our documented high rates of chronic disease and obesity confirm this.
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Current guidelines used by most American doctors suggest that patients aim for a total cholesterol below 200. Yet, did you know that many heart attacks actually occur in the 180-200 range ? The total cholesterol required to minimize risk for common chronic diseases is actually considerably lower.
As documented in the landmark Framington heart study and The China Study, people with a total cholesterol number below 150 virtually never get heart attacks – if you have spent any time on this website, you probably knew that – but did you also know that The China Study results also demonstrated that a total cholesterol in the low 100’s range results in a considerably lower risk of strokes, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and other chronic diseases when compared to a cholesterol in the high 100’s range?
The screening test that is usually performed is a blood test called a lipid profile. Experts recommend that men ages 35 and older and women ages 45 and older be more frequently screened for lipid disorders. The lipoprotein profile includes:
- Total cholesterol
- LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also called “bad” cholesterol)
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also called “good” cholesterol)
- Triglycerides (fats carried in the blood from the food we eat. Excess calories, alcohol, or sugar in the body are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells throughout the body.)
If your LDL is 190 or more, it is considered very high. Your doctor will most likely recommend a statin in addition to making healthy lifestyle choices. Statins are medicines that can help lower cholesterol levels.
After figuring your 10-year risk, your doctor will recommend a percentage by which you should try to lower your LDL level through diet, exercise, and medication if necessary.
When it comes to HDL cholesterol — “good” cholesterol – a higher number means lower risk. This is because…