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What Is Good Cholesterol?

What Is Good Cholesterol?

Nearly 94 million adults in the United States have total cholesterol numbers that are on the high side, and we want you to pay attention to the word, “total” in this stat. Your total cholesterol levels include “good” cholesterol and “bad,” and striking the right balance between the two is critical.

In an effort to break down cholesterol numbers, Dr. Madaiah Revana and the team here at Humble Cardiology Associates want to focus on why maintaining higher levels of good cholesterol is important in lowering your overall cholesterol.

What is cholesterol?

The first thing to understand about cholesterol is that your body relies on this waxy substance to build cell membranes, create hormones, and produce vitamin D. To get these jobs done, your liver produces all the cholesterol your body needs.

Unfortunately, we’re adding to our natural cholesterol levels through outside sources, namely fatty foods, which can flood your system with too much cholesterol.

Good versus bad

When we talk about “good” and “bad” cholesterol, we don’t mean the dietary cholesterol that’s in foods; we’re referring to the cholesterol in your bloodstream. This cholesterol travels through your blood aboard two lipoproteins:

  1. Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), which make up the bulk of your circulating blood cholesterol
  2. High-density lipoproteins (HDLs), which absorb cholesterol and take it to your liver for flushing out of your body

When these numbers are in balance, cholesterol-filled plaque is less likely to build up in your blood vessels and lead to atherosclerosis. This condition causes your vessels to narrow and places you at higher risk of serious conditions like heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Since your HDLs are the lipoproteins that help rid your body of excess cholesterol, HDLs are sometimes referred to as your “good” cholesterol. Since unchecked levels of LDL create problems in your blood vessels, we refer to them as “bad” cholesterol.

Cholesterol by the numbers

When we check your cholesterol levels, we’re typically measuring three different things:

  1. LDL
  2. HDL
  3. Triglycerides (fat in your blood)

If your total cholesterol number is more than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), we consider this number as borderline high. If the number is above 240 mg/dl, we consider this to be high cholesterol, which places you at greater risk for cardiovascular issues.

Breaking the numbers out, we want to see HDL levels of 50 mg/dl or higher in women and 40 mg/dl or higher in men. Higher HDL levels are helpful since they help process the extra cholesterol. As well, we want to see LDL numbers below 100 mg/dl in either sex.

We know these numbers can be confusing, and we’re happy to help explain them further. If you want to learn more about cholesterol and cardiovascular health, please contact one of our offices in Humble or Houston, Texas.

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