Lipid Panel

Total Cholesterol

Optimal Result: 100 - 199 mg/dL, or 2.59 - 5.15 mmol/L.

A test for total cholesterol is used alone or as a part of a lipid profile to help predict an individual’s risk of developing heart disease and to help make decisions about what treatment may be needed if there is borderline or high risk. As part of a lipid profile (which includes tests for high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, and triglycerides), it may be used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment once initiated. Because high blood cholesterol is associated with hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart disease, and a raised risk of death from heart attacks, cholesterol testing is considered a routine part of preventative healthcare. Results of the cholesterol test and other components of the lipid profile are used along with other known risk factors of heart disease to develop a plan of treatment and follow-up. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes such as diet or exercise programs or lipid-lowering drugs such as statins. Cholesterol testing is recommended for children, young adults, and adults with no risk factors for heart disease at least every four to six years and at more frequent intervals when a person has one or more of the following risk factors:

- Cigarette smoking

- Being overweight or obese

- Having an unhealthy diet

- Not getting enough exercise

- Age (men 45 years or older or women 55 years or older)

- Having high blood pressure

- Family history of heart disease

- Having diabetes or prediabetes

- Having pre-existing heart disease or already having had a heart attack

Normal Ranges:

Adult cholesterol levels in mg/dL

Risk of heart disease (independent of other risk factors)

>240

High risk

200-239

Borderline high risk

<200

Low risk

 

Child & adolescent cholesterol levels in mg/dL

Risk of heart disease (independent of other risk factors)

>200

High risk

170-199

Borderline high risk

<170

Low risk

 

Young adult cholesterol levels in mg/dL

Risk of heart disease (independent of other risk factors)

>225

High Risk

190-224

Borderline high risk

<190

Low risk

What does it mean if your Total Cholesterol result is too low?

A low level of total cholesterol is desirable in that it lowers your risk for developing cardiovascular disease.

What does it mean if your Total Cholesterol result is too high?

Talk to your healthcare practitioner about a potential treatment plan. A high level of Total Cholesterol can increase your risk for coronary heart disease. If your Total Cholesterol is high enough, a statin prescription may be desirable. Statins lower your LDL cholesterol by inhibiting the liver enzyme responsible for the production of cholesterol. 

- Reducing your Total Cholesterol will reduce your risk for coronary heart disease. [L]

- Dietary cholesterol consumption has a clear connection to blood cholesterol concentrations [L]

- Multiple studies have linked dietary patterns with incidence of coronary heart disease and found that groups consuming predominantly plant-based foods, versus animal-based, have lower rates of heart disease. [L]

Various studies [L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L] have shown that nutritional and lifestyle interventions have halted and even reversed coronary artery disease (CAD). The interventions included among other things:

- low-fat vegan whole-foods plant-based diet, 
- stopping smoking, 
- stress management training, 
- and moderate exercise

The easiest lifestyle adjustment you can make to lower Total Cholesterol is to eat better and exercise more.

Specifically:

- Eat foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol. Here is a general guide to following a whole food plantbased diet. 

- Remove all type of meats from diet [L]

- Remove coconut oil from diet. [L]

- Eat fiber rich food

- Exercise at least 2.5 hours / week

- Lower stress

- Limit alcohol intake

- Quit smoking

Note to vegans: If you are already following a plantbased diet, keep in mind that not all vegan foods are necessary beneficial for your health. This might include juices/sweetened beverages, refined grains, potatoes/fries, sweets. [L, L]

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