September is National Cholesterol Education Month. All Americans are encouraged to find time this month to get blood cholesterol checked and takes steps to learn more about how food and lifestyle choices can effect cholesterol levels.
Statistics. Over 102 million Americans (20 or older) have total cholesterol levels higher than 200mg/dL, which is above healthy levels and puts them at risk for heart disease (CDC).
Facts. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all cells of the body. Your body needs cholesterol to make hormones, vitamins, and other substances to help digest food. If there is too much cholesterol in the body, it can build up in your arteries putting you at risk for coronary heart disease.
Symptoms. Most people don’t have any symptoms. As a result, many people are unaware that their cholesterol levels are too high. Cholesterol levels can be easily detected through a blood draw and can be controlled through lifestyle changes and/or medications.
Getting Checked. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that adults 20 years or older have their cholesterol checked every 5 years. However, preventative guidelines for cholesterol screenings differ among adults especially if you have other risk factors such as obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and a family history of coronary heart disease.
Know Your Numbers. The following are considered desirable cholesterol levels according to the CDC.
Total Cholesterol: Less than 180mg/dL
LDL (bad) Cholesterol: Less than 110mg/dL
HDL (good) Cholesterol: 35mg/dL or higher
Triglycerides: Less than 150mg/dL
Center for Disease Control
Good Fat vs. Bad Fat
“Good” fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase your HDL (good) cholesterol.
“Bad” fats—saturated and Trans fats increase your risk for heart disease and increase your LDL and total cholesterol.
Provided by Kendall Taylor of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in their September 2015 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.