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What is cholesterol?1

  • Cholesterol is a substance that is found in the fats in a person’s blood
  • The body needs cholesterol in order to build healthy cells, but having too much cholesterol is not good and can lead to heart disease


Why does too much cholesterol lead to heart disease?1

  • A large amount of cholesterol results in fatty deposits in blood vessels in the heart
  • These fatty deposits restrict the amount of blood that can pass through the blood vessels by making the blood vessels very narrow and therefore the heart does not get enough blood

What do all those abbreviations mean?1,2

  • Cholesterol is attached to proteins in the blood
  • The combination of cholesterol and proteins is referred to as a lipoprotein
  • Lipoproteins carry different types of cholesterol such as:
    • LDL (Low density lipoprotein): “BAD” cholesterol that transports cholesterol throughout the body and causes cholesterol to build up in arteries
    • HDL (High density lipoprotein): “GOOD” cholesterol takes extra cholesterol back to the liver
    • Triglycerides: Fats in the blood from excess calories
    • TC (Total cholesterol): A measure of HDL, LDL, and other lipid components


What are my numbers supposed to be?3

  • LDL < 130 mg/dL
  • HDL > 40 mg/dL (men); > 50 mg/dL (women)
  • Triglycerides < 150 mg/dL
  • Total cholesterol < 200 mg/dL


High cholesterol is PREVENTABLE and TREATABLE by:1

  • A healthy diet
    • Avoid foods high in cholesterol such as high fat dairy products (whole milk), red meat, foods high in saturated and trans fats (margarine and cookies)
    • Eat lean meats, salmon, and tuna
    • Brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain breads, and skim milk
    • Munch on fruits and vegetables
    • Quit smoking
    • Regular exercise
      • 30 to 60 minutes every day
      • Medications



1)       High cholesterol. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. 2011 Jun 1 [cited 2012 Aug 3]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-cholesterol/DS00178.

2)       Nazario, B. Understanding cholesterol numbers. WebMD [Internet]. 2011 Oct 20 [cited 2012 Aug 3]. Available from: http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/guide/understanding-numbers.

3)       Shaw, G. When your doctor orders cholesterol-lowering medications. WebMD [Internet]. 2012 Jun 15 [cited 2012 Aug 3]. Available from: http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/features/when-your-doctor-orders-cholesterol-lowering-medications.

Cholesterol-Lowering Foods

Cholesterol-Lowering Foods: The Fabulous Five   You’ve been told to lower your cholesterol, a form of fat made by the liver and present in some foods. What’s your first thought? If you’re like many people, you may think first about what you need to stop eating. But did you know that adding certain foods to …

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