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Cholesterol 101

Many people think heart health is all about their total cholesterol number. Others think having a health "good cholesterol" score is what really matters. Fact is, a total picture of your cholesterol relies on numbers for these four types of fats:

1. Total cholesterol
2. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
3. High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
4. Triglycerides (Trigs)

Cholesterol is not always bad for you. Your body actually needs it to new cell membranes and hormones, and to protect nerves. But having too much cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart desease.
Here's a closer look at the three cpmponents that make up your total cholesterol: LDL, HDL and Trigs.

What is LDL? It's known as bad cholesterol ( Remember that "L" stands for "low". and you want this level to be a low number) LDL's job is to carry cholesterol through the bloodstream from the liver to the rest of the cells in the body.

What is HDL? It's known as the good cholesterol ( The "H" stands for "high". The higher this number, the better it typically is for your heart health) HDL moves unused cholesterol from the cells back to the liver, where it's excreted. But any "leftovers" the HDL can't handle stay in the body and may start collecting in the blood vessels. So, the higher your HDL level, the more excess cholesterol will get disposed of by the liver.

What are Triglycerides (Trigs)? These fats give your body energy. While that's a good thing, just like cholesterol, any Trigs that are not used for energy stay in the blood. When that happens, Trigs levels can jump considerably and then contribute to - and even speed up - hardening of the arteries or arteriosclerosis.

Know your levels : To diagnose high cholesterol, your healthcare provider will likely perform a fasting cholesterol test called a " fasting lipoprotein profile". The test typically requires that you not eat or drink anything, but water  for 9-12 hours before having your blood drawn. If you are 50 or older. you should get tested yearly, or even more often if it's recommended by your healthcare provider. Your levels may vary slightly, but don't panic. They also depend on factors like your overall health and family history. So make sure you're clear about your individual risks.

Cholesterol numbers: Can be confusing for a lot of people.
Not to worry! Below are the numbers you want to shoot for to keep a healthy cholesterol count.  Keep in mind, that these are the optimal numbers. People with no risk factors can have level 10 to 30 points higher or lower and still be perfectly healthy

     * Total Cholesterol Level:            200 mg/dl or less
     * LDL (bad) Cholesterol Level:    less than 100 mg/dl
     * HDL (good) Cholesterol Level: 60 mg/dl and above
     * Triglycerides:                            150mg/dl or lower

* trích từ: HealthMonitor. com