A total cholesterol level of 163 mg/dL is considered optimal. Optimal total cholesterol is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
Your total cholesterol is calculated by adding your LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, and 20% of triglyceride levels.
LDL, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, accumulates in your blood vessels and increases your risk for heart disease. Ideally, LDL levels should be less than 100 mg/dL, but lower is better.
HDL is considered “good” cholesterol because it protects against heart disease by scavenging cholesterol and returning it to the liver for excretion. The ideal HDL level is >60 mg/dL, though >40 mg/dL for men and >50 mg/dL for women are still considered good.
Triglycerides are another type of fat that can build up in the bloodstream and increase your risk of heart disease. Ideally, triglycerides should be <150 mg/dL.
Maintaining an optimal total cholesterol level is good for your overall health and can lower your risk of developing heart disease in the future.
Cholesterol levels tend to increase as you get older, so it’s best to put heart-healthy habits into place now. Here are some things you can do to help keep your levels in the optimal range:
Fill up on fiber-rich foods like veggies, fruit, whole grains, and legumes, aiming to get 30-40 grams of fiber each day.
Limit refined carbs and added sugars, like soda, chips, candy, baked goods, sweetened yogurt, and ice cream.
Avoid trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) and reduce saturated fat intake to < 10% total calories.
Eat small, fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and trout, at least twice a week.
Be active every day, aiming for 30-60 minutes of physical activity 5x/week.
Incorporate plant sterols and stanols daily (2g) in the form of food or a supplement.
Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.
Quit smoking if you currently smoke.
If you have diabetes, achieve and maintain good blood sugar control (HbA1c).
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