Cholesterol: What Is LDL Cholesterol, How to Measure LDL Cholesterol Level

LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and cholesterol are the basic terms, but can’t be understood by many peoples. Cholesterol is not just something like fat, which sticks around your waist. It usually carries through your bloodstream in a small package called a lipoprotein. These packages are made up of fat (lipid) and protein.

There are two types of lipoprotein carries in your bloodstream. One is called LDL (bad) cholesterol and another one is called HDL (good) cholesterol.

LDL (bad) cholesterol is not good for health. A high amount of LDL cholesterol in your body can lead to building up of cholesterol in your arteries. Arteries are a blood vessel that carries blood from your heart to your body. A high amount of LDL cholesterol can block your arteries, which in turn can lead to heart strokes and other severe heart problems.

That’s why I decided to write an article on cholesterol, and make you understand the difference between LDL and HDL cholesterol, and provide the proper knowledge about these cholesterols. Also, I have discussed how to measure your LDL cholesterol level by providing a cholesterol chart below and what food you should include in your diet to lower your LDL cholesterol level.

Let’s get started!

What is cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty, wax-like substance found in a cell of a body. It is vital because our body needs some cholesterol to make hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, etc. also it makes vitamin D and other compounds that help in digesting the food you eat. Cholesterol is also found in some of the foods we eat on a daily basis. Cholesterol travels through your bloodstream with the help of lipoproteins.

There are two types of lipoprotein:

  • LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein)
  • HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein)

Let’s see these two lipoproteins in detail.

What is LDL cholesterol?

Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is also known as ‘bad cholesterol’. It gets deposited on the wall of arteries and causes hard plaques. Hard plaque causes the building up of narrow arteries and raises the risk of heart attack, heart strokes, and other peripheral artery diseases.

What is HDL cholesterol?

High-Density Lipoprotein which is also known as ‘good cholesterol’, because it carries LDL cholesterol to your liver where it is drained from the body. Experts believe that HDL acts as a survivor. A healthy HDL cholesterol level may protect against heart attack, heart stroke and other heart diseases.

Eating too many unhealthy fatty foods increases the level of LDL cholesterol in your blood. This process is also known as hyperlipidemia or high cholesterol.

How to measure your LDL cholesterol level

A cholesterol level generally measured by 4 distinct numbers which include: total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides.

A high LDL cholesterol level may lead to heart attack, strokes, and other heart diseases. It is very important to check LDL cholesterol level through a blood check-up.

Below are the cholesterol ranges which will tell you whether your cholesterol level is high, moderate, or low. Usually, low LDL cholesterol is better for your health.

Ranges of Cholesterol level (usually found in blood tests)

  • 100 mg per dL (2.6mmol/L) is ideal.
  • Cholesterol level between 100 and 129 mg per DL (2.6 and 3.3mmol/L) is close to normal.
  • Cholesterol between 130 and 159 mg per dL (3.4 and 4.1mmol/L) is board line.
  • LDL Cholesterol between 160 and 189 mg per dL (4.1 and 4.9mmol/L) is elevated.
  • Cholesterol level of more than 190 mg per dL (4.9mmol/L) is considered to be high.

Levels: LDL cholesterol level, HDL cholesterol level, and Total cholesterol level

LDL Cholesterol

Levels Category
Below 100 mg/dL Ideal
From 100 to 129 mg/dL Near Ideal
From 130 to 159 mg/dL Borderline high
From 160 to 189 mg/dL High
190 mg/dL and above Very high

HDL Cholestrol

Levels Category
Below 40 mg/dL (men)Below 50 mg/dL (women) Poor
40- 59 mg/dL The higher/ The better
60mg/dL and above Best

Total cholesterol

Levels Category
Below 200 mg/dL Desirable
200-239 mg/dL Borderline
240 mg/dL and above High

How to Lower LDL Cholesterol Level

If you are trying to reduce your cholesterol level, then please include all these things which are given below in your daily routine.

1. Eat healthy foods for lowering LDL cholesterol level

There are several foods which you should definitely include in your diet. Even if you had eaten unhealthy foods for years, try to make few changes to lower your cholesterol level.

Choose healthier fats

Saturated fat and Trans fat usually found in red meat, oils and dairy product, can raise your cholesterol level and LDL cholesterol level. To lower down your total cholesterol, try to consume 8% of your daily calorie from saturated fats.

To lower down your LDL cholesterol level, try to eat leaner meat, chicken breasts, beef, nuts, etc. choose low-fat dairy products and some monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. These are the healthier fats which increase your HDL cholesterol level. These fats are found in olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, peanut oil, etc.

Reject trans fat

Trans fat which is usually found in fried foods, cookies, cakes, etc is bad for your health. It affects cholesterol level by increasing the LDL “bad” cholesterol and lower down the HDL “good” cholesterol. This combination is bad because it increases the risk of heart attacks and other several heart problems.

My advice is to beware when you eat packed foods such as cookies and cakes. Read the ingredients list, and avoid eating those foods which contain hydrogenated oils.

Eat foods rich in omega 3 fats

Omega 3 has many health benefits. One of those benefits of eating food rich in omega 3 fats is it helps in increasing HDL cholesterol level, reduce LDL cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.

Some fish such as Salmon, Mackerel, Chia Seeds are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. You can also eat peanuts, walnuts, almonds, and flax seeds to increase your HDL cholesterol.

Increase your soluble fiber intake

Soluble fiber is good for your heart. It lowers down LDL cholesterol level and increases HDL cholesterol level. Soluble fiber has many heart health benefits. Eat oatmeal, fruits, beans, vegetable, and lentils to increase your daily intake of soluble fiber.

Consume whey protein

Whey protein is one of the best drinks to lower LDL cholesterol levels. It is made up of low-fat milk and has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. You can consume whey protein and casein protein powder in the morning and before going to bed to lower your total cholesterol level and increase your HDL cholesterol.

2. Exercise: The most important key to lower LDL cholesterol

You have heard from many people that exercise is one of the best solutions to lower your cholesterol. Lots of doctors and researchers say that exercise lower down LDL cholesterol level in your blood. It also increases HDL levels in your blood and helps to keep your heart healthy.

3. Quit smoking and lower your LDL cholesterol

Now, this point is something very important and I request you to take this point seriously. Smoking is something which is not at all good for your health. Each and every day you heard on radio and television that smoking is injurious to health. But still, everyone who smokes ignores this biggest truth and enjoys smoking like that caution of quit smoking is fake.

Smoking is one of the major factors of heart and lung diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of the deaths are from cardiovascular diseases which are caused by smoking. On the other hand, smoking increases your total cholesterol level and lowers down your HDL (good) cholesterol. This, in turn, leads to several diseases like High blood pressure; diabetes, etc. make an effort and try to quit smoking.

Low cholesterol diets or foods which lower LDL cholesterol level

Oats

Oats are no doubt is one of the best food to lower down cholesterol levels. If you are looking to maintain or lower your cholesterol level, then you should definitely include oats in your diet. Try to eat oatmeal in the morning breakfast. Oats can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by 5.3% in just 6 weeks. Oats contain soluble fiber and beta-glucan, which is the key to lower cholesterol levels.

Nuts

Studies show that eating nuts like peanuts, almonds, and walnuts are very beneficial for your heart health. Nuts are a good source of HDL cholesterol which increases your HDL cholesterol level and lowers down your LDL cholesterol level. Eating 2 ounces of nuts daily helps to slightly lower down LDL levels up to 5-7%.

Grapes

Grapes contain pterostilbene, a compound found in grapes, which lowers down cholesterol and triglycerides levels in your body. Try to include grapes in your diet routine.

Fatty fish

Fish are rich in omega 3fatty acid. Eating fish once or twice a week can lower down your LDL (bad) cholesterol level. Omega 3 also reduces triglycerides in your bloodstream and protects your heart from several diseases.

Vegetable oils

Using vegetable oils like olive oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, coconut oil, can help you in lowering down cholesterol levels. Try to cook foods in any one of this oil and see your cholesterol level comes in control.