Triglycerides and cholesterol, while necessary for proper bodily function, are often found in elevated levels in the average Western diet–and in the average American. Understanding the lifestyle issues that can affect your body’s blood lipid levels, and what the normal lipid levels are, can aid you in taking control of this important facet of your overall health.
Triglycerides are lipids–or neutral fat–consists of glycerol and three fatty acid molecules, explains Encyclopedia.com. Digested fat that has been absorbed by the small intestine takes the form of triglyceride for transportation of those fats to the bloodstream.
Cholesterol is a sterol found in both animal and plant tissues. The body also manufactures cholesterol via the liver. Encyclopedia.com explains that cholesterol is necessary for the formation of many steroid necessary for good health and proper body functions.
The American Heart Association, AHA, provides lists of normal blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. These levels are listed to be:
Triglycerides: Less than 150 mg/dL: normal; 150 to 199 mg/dL: borderline high; 200 mg/dL and above: high. Triglyceride levels above 499 mg/dL are considered by the AHA to be very high. Mayoclinic.com lists these same measurements and rankings.
Cholesterol: There are tests and levels established to determine your total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL levels. HDL cholesterol is termed the good cholesterol; LDL cholesterol is considered to be “bad” cholesterol.
Your health care provider looks not only at these levels individually, but also in relation to one another. The total cholesterol level is noted in relation to the level of HDL cholesterol. The AHA advises that a total cholesterol level of 200 mg/dL or lower is desirable, with levels of 240 mg/dL or above considered to be high and putting the body at twice the normal risk for heart disease.
HDL cholesterol readings of 50 mg/dL or less as a major risk factor for heart disease for women and a reading of 40 mg/dL or less as a major risk factor for heart disease in men. HDL cholesterol readings of 60 mg/dL and higher are considered to be good, offering protection against heart disease.
Your health care provider is likely to look at both of these levels to aid in determining your individual risk of heart disease and measures to take for future screening and/or treatment.
LDL cholesterol readings as stated by the AHA state that levels of 129 mg/dL or lower are near to or optimal; levels of 160 mg/dL and above are considered to be high. The AHA explains that your LDL goal level may be determined by how many other risk factors for heart disease you already have.
The American Heart Association advises that the promotion of improved heart health, as well as overall health, may be aided with a lifestyle that avoids tobacco use, gets regular moderate physical activity, and consumes a balanced, nutritional diet.
Diet should avoid or reduce intake of saturated and trans fats.