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Silent Killer: Cholesterol

Category: Uncategorized
9 September 2010, Comments: 1

We end our Silent killer serious with cholesterol. What is it? Where does it come from? What does it do? Having high cholesterol is all too common these days and when paired with high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar levels it can lead to trouble. It’s also become a common buzz word and marketing ploy to give foods a “good” and “bad” rep. Cholesterol plays a vital role in every cell’s membrane and in our blood plasma. Its jobs include insulating neurons, building and maintaining cellular walls, metabolizing fat soluble vitamins, producing bile, and acting as a catalyst for hormone productions. Because of its daily importance the body cannot rely on the monkey mind to remember to eat enough cholesterol therefore it is wired to produce it. The liver makes between 1000-1400mg per day, which is A LOT compared to the 200-400 mg of dietary cholesterol we consume per day. Recent studies have revealed that cholesterol alone does not cause Heart Disease but combined with other conditions and poor habits, high cholesterol can certainly increase your risk. Having elevated cholesterol can lead to arterial blockages and eventually heart disease. The American heart Association recommends that we keep average daily dietary cholesterol consumption <300mg. Most people exceed the amount of Dietary recommendations due in large to fast and processed foods so it’s important to know the facts about this key player:

There are two types of Cholesterol, LDL (Low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). In this case it’s not just about the numbers, size does matter.

LDL: bad guy. LDL is a smaller size and therefore can get stuck in the arteries and build up. Ideally we want less of this.

HDL: good guy. HDL is a larger size and rolls around the arteries without getting stuck and can help move the LDL out as well. Ideally we want more of this.

What is normal?

Checking cholesterol levels on an annual basis is a good idea. It usually is part of a routine lipid panel blood test, check with your doctor to make sure you have gotten this test. Particle size must be requested as it is not routine.

Normal Range

LDL levels: < 200

HDL levels: > 50

Ratio of HDL/LDL: < 4


Factors that contribute to high cholesterol:

Weight: Increased weight is generally associated with increased LDL; many times weight loss can reduce cholesterol.

Exercise: Being physically active helps to reduce LDL and also increase HDL levels.

Diet: As mentioned above, the foods we eat have cholesterol and has an additive effect to the cholesterol already produced by the body. Dietary modifications help with weight loss and reduction in blood cholesterol.

Genetics: Just like we inherit our eye color we may also inherit our cholesterol levels. If high cholesterol is genetically present in your family then it is important to take extra care with diet and exercise. Although levels may never be below the recommended limits having a healthy lifestyle will decrease the risk of disease.

What foods contain cholesterol?

Dietary cholesterol is found only in foods derived from animals (meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products); it is not present in plants. A general rule of thumb is if the food is high in animal fat then it is high in cholesterol, with two exceptions:

Liver: Because this organ produces cholesterol it contains high levels of cholesterol but not high in fat.

Eggs: The cholesterol along with other nutrients (high quality protein, minerals and vitamins) is found in the yolk.

Here are the cholesterol levels for some common animal based foods:

Milligrams of cholesterol
3 ounces of liver 300
one large egg 215
3 ounces of lean red meat 90
3 ounces skinless poultry 90
3 ounces fish 50
one cup whole milk 33
one ounce cheese 30
1 teaspoon butter 11
one cup skim milk 4


Tips to a healthy cholesterol level:

  • Eat lean meats, poultry, and fish, eggs (whites with some yolk)
  • Fruits and vegetables high in fiber
  • Daily exercise
  • Get tested and know your levels.

There are many drugs on the market to help reduce cholesterol levels but know that it can also be reduced through lifestyle changes. Your food is a drug and Increased exercise + dietary changes can positively affect cholesterol level.

Over the last few posts we covered three important clinical indicators: HbA1c, Blood Pressure and Cholesterol. So, what’s next? Know where you are at! If you don’t know your values then now is a good time to make an appt with your doctor and request for these tests to be done. Just like everything else in life, you can’t determine success without knowing where you were coming from.


Ritu Riyat



One response on “Silent Killer: Cholesterol

  1. Globelle Goff says:

    I agree with you! Cholesterol is such is silent killer. If any one interested about medical supplies and products you can call us directly at 1-866-683-5992.
    Globelle Goff

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