Cholesterol Testing – A deeper look
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with high cholesterol you need to read this.
We are often led to believe that cholesterol is the enemy and ultimately what leads to a heart attack. Research has shown that 75% of heart attacks occur in people with normal cholesterol levels.
Let’s dive in and take a closer look at the dreaded C word.
Firstly, cholesterol is produced naturally in the liver and is necessary for many body functions like building the structure of cell membranes, making sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone and it is even essential for the production of Vitamin D.
One of the ways cholesterol can become problematic is when we have high levels of inflammation in our bodies. The cholesterol molecules get damaged by free radicals floating around the body, causing them to become oxidized.
When getting cholesterol tests done, it is not enough to just get a complete cholesterol count. Total cholesterol levels do not mean much as they do not differentiate between the different kinds of cholesterol but group the numbers together. Having said that, you still want to keep the total number under 200.
There are different forms of cholesterol, some less concerning than others as I’ll explain below.
The 3 main fatty substances that affect our heart health are
· LDL (often known as bad cholesterol)
· HDL (often known as good cholesterol)
· Triglycerides (a type of fat)
LDL (low density lipids)
LDL is necessary to transport cholesterol from the liver, via bloodstream, to parts of the body where it is needed. LDL is produced in the liver, but we also get large amount from animal products like meat and dairy.
When testing LDL the total unit number is not enough to go by. The size and count of particles within each LDL unit are just as important, if not more so. Small and dense particles are more problematic whereas large and fluffy particles are less worrisome.
LDL Count <100
Total Particle count:
Large particles <1000
Small particles <400
Oxidized LDL: <60 U/L
HDL (high density lipids)
HDL cleans out our blood vessels by collecting LDL (excess cholesterol) and transports is back to the liver for processing. This type is protective against heart disease and we can increase our HDL count with exercise.
HDL Count: Men >50
These are dangerous fatty acids that are largely involved in fat storage. High triglyceride levels are a good indictor that you need to cut down on processed carbohydrates like bread, pasta, cookies, etc.
This is opposite to LDL in the sense that larger particles are unbelievably bad and smaller particles are of less concern.
Total Count: <100 but we should ideally aim for <70
Another area to check that serves as a very good high risk heart disease indicator would be the triglyceride : HDL ratio. This should ideally be <2.
Ex. Tri 70:70 HDL = Good
Tri 140:70 HDL =Borderline
Tri 160:70 HDL =Bad
An imbalance in this ratio could be a sign that your body is having a hard time metabolizing carbohydrate and it may be worth looking at adjusting your diet.
Next time you consider getting a cholesterol or heart health test done, instead of doing a standard lipid panel opt for a test that goes deeper and can measure all aspect mentioned above. These tests can be prescribed by your doctor and include the Cardio IQ test and the NMR lipid profile.
If you are concerned about cholesterol levels and need to bring them down, the best way to do this is though food. If you would like to explore options and learn about food that supports healthy cholesterol levels, get in touch with me and together we can bring your cholesterol back to an optimal level, taking one step closer to unleashing an UNLIMITED YOU!
This post is for general information purposes only. Please consult your Doctor for any heart health concerns you may have.
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