Heart health and cholesterol

To improve your heart health it is prudent to reduce your reduce cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol has long been maligned as the main cause of heart disease. However this is not the complete story. When we think about cholesterol we need to know not only the fractions of cholesterol (LDL, HDL and triglycerides) but also the particle number and particle size of both LDL and HDL. The cholesterol tests that we get done only tell us the concentration of cholesterol in the blood, but not the particle size and number. If we consider LDL (the bad cholesterol) and we have a high particle number and small particle size, it’s much worse than having a lower particle number and larger particle size – even at the same cholesterol concentration. The same is true for HDL (the good cholesterol) but it would be the other way round – it’s much better to having a high particle number and larger particle size than a lower particle number and size. Plus we also need to consider other risk factors over and above cholesterol such as CRP, fibrinogen and homocysteine.

Researchers from Birmingham, Alabama, have developed a new cholesterol test that measures all of these markers that give a more details picture of heart health and risk factors. There are also genetic tests that can give you an indication of what type of drugs and diets might best work for you and your heart health. London nutritionist Steve Hines is trained in interpreting these new cholesterol tests and on recommending what foods and nutrients to use to balance your cholesterol scores.

Normative values for cholesterol are but remember these only give you part of the picture:

Total Cholesterol

  • Desirable: Less than 200 mg/dL (5.18 mmol/L)
  • Borderline high: 200-239 mg/dL (5.18 to 6.18 mmol/L)
  • High: 240 mg/dL (6.22 mmol/L) or higher

LDL Cholesterol

  • Optimal: Less than 100 mg/dL (2.59 mmol/L)
  • Near/above optimal: 100-129 mg/dL (2.59-3.34 mmol/L)
  • Borderline high: 130-159 mg/dL (3.37-4.12 mmol/L)
  • High: 160-189 mg/dL (4.15-4.90 mmol/L)
  • Very high: Greater than 190 mg/dL (4.90 mmol/L)

HDL Cholesterol

  • Low level, increased risk: Less than 40 mg/dL (1.0 mmol/L) for men and less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) for women
  • Average level, average risk: 40-50 mg/dL (1.0-1.3 mmol/L) for men and between 50-59 mg/dl (1.3-1.5 mmol/L) for women
  • High level, less than average risk: 60 mg/dL (1.55 mmol/L) or higher for both men and women

Fasting Triglycerides

  • Desirable: Less than 150 mg/dL (1.70 mmol/L)
  • Borderline high: 150-199 mg/dL(1.7-2.2 mmol/L)
  • High: 200-499 mg/dL (2.3-5.6 mmol/L)
  • Very high: Greater than 500 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L)
Share Button