Why know

CholesterolCholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is necessary for multiple functions within the body, but having numbers out of range is linked with cardiovascular disease, heart attack and risk of stroke.

LDL: This type of cholesterol is often referred to as the “bad” type of cholesterol. It has gotten this reputation because it likes to congregate around the heart and build up when left unattended, creating blockages within the arteries.

HDL: While LDL are often referred to as “bad”, HDL are in turn the “good guys”. They are so called because of their ability to grab the LDLs and take them back through the liver to be processed and eliminated.

Triglycerides (TG): Consider TGs teenage LDLs – they aren’t yet causing any harm, but if there aren’t enough HDLs in the body to monitor them, the TGs eventually grow up to be LDLs and can wreak havoc.

Cholesterol Ratios

Rather than looking at your cholesterol numbers individually, it is more important to look at the whole picture to see how your health is being affected. One way to do this is through cholesterol ratios.

There are two cholesterol ratios to consider:

  • Total Cholesterol:HDL
    Of all the cholesterol in your body, how much "good stuff" is there? HDLs are protective because they help clear out excess, dangerous cholesterol and keep the ‘teenage’ TGs at bay so the more you have, the better. Because of this, TC:HDL ratio is a better indicator of cardiovascular disease than just TC alone. A ratio of 3.5 or lower is optimal for cardiovascular protection.

  • LDL:HDL
    Again, are there enough good guys to keep the bad guys under control, or have the LDLs and TGs begun to take over? Ideally this ratio should be no more than 2.6 so that the HDLs can continue to do their job effectively.

Improve Your Score

While incorporating healthy fats rich in omega-3s, and increasing your fruit and vegetable intake is key in improving cholesterol levels, increasing your physical activity can play an even bigger role. Getting active not only decreases the levels of LDL within the body, it works double time by also increasing the number of HDL!