Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is produced in the liver. Every cell in our body has cholesterol and our body is capable of making all the cholesterol it needs. Cholesterol is transported in the blood by lipoproteins.
There are two types of lipoproteins that transport cholesterol throughout the body: low-density lipoproteins (LDL)-“ bad” cholesterol and high-density lipoproteins (HDL) – “good “cholesterol.
LDL transports cholesterol from the liver to the cells. If too much cholesterol is transported to the cells, it can lead to build up of cholesterol in the arteries. HDL does the opposite – it carries cholesterol from the cells to the liver.
What is high cholesterol ? High cholesterol is a state in which you have too much cholesterol in the blood. Having a high cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease. It is important that you have healthy LDL and HDL levels.
Total Cholesterol Category
Less than 200 mg/dl Desirable
200 to 239 mg/dl Borderline high
240 mg/dl and above High blood cholesterol
Optimal levels according to the CDC
Desirable Cholesterol Levels
Total cholesterol Less than 200 mg/dL
LDL (“bad” cholesterol) Less than 100 mg/dL*
HDL (“good” cholesterol) 40 mg/dL or higher
Triglycerides Less than 150 mg/dL
2013 statistics on High Blood Cholesterol for African-American women age 20 years old and older
• According to the American Heart Association(AHA), 40.7 % of women have total blood cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dl or higher.
• According to the American Heart Association(AHA), 11.7% of women have levels of 240 mg/dl or higher.
• According to the American Heart Association(AHA),31.2% of women have an LDL cholesterol of 130 mg/dl or higher.
• According to the American Heart Association(AHA), 10.2% of women have HDL cholesterol less than 40 mg/dl.
Risk factors – that can be modified to reduce your risk of high blood cholesterol levels.
• Diet- there are certain foods that can raise your blood cholesterol levels. Foods that contain saturated fats, trans fatty acids(trans fats) , dietary cholesterol, or triglycerides are likely to raise your blood cholesterol levels.
• Weight- being overweight can raise your LDL level –“bad” cholesterol and lower your HDL –“good” cholesterol as well as raise your total cholesterol levels.
• Physical inactivity – not exercising can lead to weight gain, which can result in increased cholesterol levels.
Prevention – tips to prevent or reduce your risk of high blood cholesterol levels.
• Eat a healthy diet- a healthy diet can keep your blood cholesterol levels down or lower your cholesterol levels. Stay away from saturated fat, trans fat, and dietary cholesterol- they can cause your body cholesterol levels to raise. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good fats-they can lower your blood cholesterol levels. Foods that have fiber can help lower your cholesterol levels.
• Maintain a healthy weight- find out what is your healthy weight number by calculating your body mass index(BMI). You can find out what your BMI is by visiting CDC’s Assessing Your Weight Web site. Being overweight or obese can actually raise your cholesterol levels, so losing weight will help lower your cholesterol levels.
• Exercise regularly- working out can help you maintain a healthy weight as well as lower your cholesterol level and blood pressure. Aim to exercise for 2 hours and 30 minutes every week, participate in moderate-intensity workouts.
• Don’t smoke- smoking puts you at an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. So don’t smoke. If you do smoke, quit. . For information on how to quit, visit CDC’s Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site.
1. National Institute of Health (NIH). 2012. What is cholesterol ?.
Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/topics/health/h/
2. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention(CDC). 2010. Cholesterol . Available at http://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/
3. Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, Borden WB, Bravata DM, Dai S, Ford ES, Fox CS, Franco S, Fullerton HJ, Gillespie C, Hailpern SM, Heit JA, Howard VJ, Huffman MD, Kissela BM, Kittner SJ, Lackland DT, Lichtman JH, Lisabeth LD, Magid D, Marcus GM, Marelli A, Matchar DB, McGuire DK, Mohler ER, Moy CS, Mussolino ME, Nichol G, Paynter NP, Schreiner PJ, Sorlie PD, Stein J, Turan TN, Virani SS, Wong ND, Woo D, Turner MB;on behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2013 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2013; 127:e6-e245.