If you are worried that your cholesterol is too high, your first question may well be, “Well, what should my cholesterol be?” The answer to this question is not as simple as you may think. To really understand what your cholesterol levels should be, you must first know about the different types of cholesterol and how they work in your body.
Have I Got Too Much Cholesterol?
The first thing you should know if you are asking, “What should my cholesterol be?” is that not all cholesterol is bad for you. In fact, your body needs some cholesterol in order to function. It helps to create hormones, digestive juices, vitamin D, nerve synapses, and is a major component in cell membranes.
When you have more cholesterol in your blood than your body needs, however, the excess starts to build up on the walls of your arteries, causing them to narrow and harden. This can lead to heart disease, and if a blood clot gets done in these narrow arms, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. For this reason, it is incredibly important that you keep your cholesterol levels in check.
“Good” and “Bad” Types of Cholesterol
There are two main types of cholesterol, and it is the ratio between these two that will determine whether or not your cholesterol levels are healthy. The first type is of cholesterol is called low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol, and it is usually referred to as “bad” cholesterol, because it is the type that will clog your arteries. The other kind of cholesterol is high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol, and it is known as “good” cholesterol because it helps to carry excess LDL cholesterol out of your blood.
Both LDL and HDL cholesterol is needed in your body, but it is essential to maintain the proper ratio of these two in order to avoid heart disease. In women, this ratio should be no less than one part HDL cholesterol per four parts total cholesterol (1: 4), and for men it should be no less than 1: 4..
What Numbers Are Right For Cholesterol?
So now that you know about the two different kinds of cholesterol, you are probably saying to yourself, “Yes, but what should my cholesterol be numerically , for both types?” Cholesterol levels are measured inmilligrams per deciliter (mg / dL), and they can only be determined though a blood test. Your results will typically be broken down into your total cholesterol, LDL, and HDL levels.
An optimal range for total cholesterol levels would be less than 180 mg / dL, although anything below 200 is still desirable. Anything between 200 and 239 mg / dL is considered to be borderline high and should be closely closed to make sure it does not go up. Levels of 240 mg / dL and over are considered high, and your doctor will probably recommend that you make medical changes or take medication to lower them.
For LDL levels specifically, the optimal range is considered to be lower than 100 mg / dL. Levels of 129 mg / dL and below are still good, but if they are any higher than that you should start considering making diet changes. Levels of 160 mg / dL and above are considered high, and anything about 190 mg / dL is very high.
HDL cholesterol levels should ideally be above 60mg / dL. Levels of 40 mg / dL and below are considered low. Remember, if your LDL or total cholesterol levels are high, you want to actually raise your HDL levels, not lower them. Increased HDL levels will carry more LDL out of your blood, lowering your bad cholesterol levels.
If you have been wondering “What should my cholesterol be?” hopefully this article has helped answer your question. If you have any doubts or further inquiries, you should discuss them with your physician. They will be able to give you further information and advice about lowering your LDL cholesterol levels.