As part of an annual wellness check, it is common for your provider to order a set of blood tests to check your overall health. As part of these tests, your cholesterol levels will be checked to make sure they are not too high or too low. But what is cholesterol, and what role does it play in your body?

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance made by your liver that helps the body perform important tasks, like digesting food and making hormones. There are two types of cholesterol, LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and HDL, “good” cholesterol. The different between the two types of cholesterol is the role each plays in the body.

LDL cholesterol stands for low-density lipoproteins and is the cause of high cholesterol. LDL cholesterol helps to carry cholesterol particles through the body so that it can function. However, LDL cholesterol builds up on the walls of your arteries and causes them to narrow. When this happens, it makes it hard for HDL cholesterol to come through and do its job – removing LDL cholesterol. When too much LDL cholesterol builds up, it increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and other health issues.

HDL cholesterol stands for high-density lipoproteins. HDL cholesterol helps to remove LDL from blood vessels and takes it to the liver where it can be broken up and flushed out of the body. Research suggests that having a healthy level of HDL cholesterol can help to lower the risk of stroke and heart attack.

What are normal cholesterol levels?

Total cholesterol Less than 200
HDL (women) More than 50
HDL (men) More than 40
LDL Less than 100


What causes high cholesterol?

There are several things that can cause your cholesterol levels to be high, including lifestyle and family history. While you cannot make changes to the genes you inherited from your parents or grandparents, you can make small changes in your everyday life to help lower the risk of developing high cholesterol.

So, how do you prevent and treat high cholesterol?

  • Change your diet: Eating a heart-healthy diet is one of the best ways to lower your cholesterol. Replace foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, like red meat and full-fat dairy products, with healthier options, including poultry, beans and low-fat dairy.
  • Get active: Getting enough physical activity can help increase HDL cholesterol levels. Aim for at least 150 minutes of activity each week, such as walking, swimming and riding a bike.
  • Losing weight: People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of developing high cholesterol. Losing weight helps to reduce the amount of fat in your body and increase HDL cholesterol.

Need help managing your cholesterol? Schedule an appointment with your HealthLinc provider to discuss your concerns and create an action plan. We’re here to help you live the healthiest, happiest version of yourself!

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