Harold Hamm Oklahoma Diabetes Center

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Cholesterol: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Michelle Dennison-FarrisMichelle Dennison-Farris, RD/LD, BC-ADM, CDE
Harold Hamm Diabetes Center Dietitian Diabetes Educator

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is one of the major lipids (fats) in the body and is essential for cell growth and nourishment. The other major fats are called triglycerides. Cholesterol is classified into several categories. These categories include HDL (good) LDL (Bad) and VLDL (ugly). HDL cholesterol helps to clear the LDL Cholesterol. VLDL cholesterol is the precursor to the LDL Cholesterol. LDL cholesterol and Triglycerides are known for their stickiness and causing your blood to be thicker.

Why be concerned about Cholesterol?

High levels of LDL and VLDL cholesterol lead to the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). This occurs as a result of cholesterol accumulating in the walls of blood vessels (arteries). These blood vessels become narrow and therefore limit the amount of blood that flows through them. If this blockage occurs in the blood vessels of the heart, coronary heart disease (CHD) will develop and a “heart attack” may occur.

How will I know if my cholesterol is out of control?

Your LDL, VLDL triglycerides and total cholesterol may be elevated without your knowing it because there are no early symptoms, so therefore, you must have it checked (measured).

Total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, VLDL and Triglycerides can be measured with only a drop of blood from a finger stick. This simple test is used as a screening test.

Classification Total Cholesterol LDL Cholesterol HDL Cholesterol
Desirable Less than 200mg/dl less than 100 more than 45
Borderline 200-239 mg/dl 100-130 35-45
Poor 240+mg/dl 130+ less than 35
Classification Triglycerides VLDL Cholesterol
Desirable Less than 150 6-20 mg/dl
Borderline 150-200 20-35 mg/dl
Poor 200+ 35+

How do I control my Blood Cholesterol Levels?

Lower Total Cholesterol

  • Eat a balanced low calorie, low fat diet
  • Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes

Increase HDL Cholesterol

  • Increase consumption of monounsaturated fats (canola & olive oil)
  • Stop smoking
  • Increase activity in your lifestyle

Decrease LDL Cholesterol Stop smoking

  • Eat fewer high fat foods
  • Increase the fiber in your diet

Decrease Triglyceride

  • Reduce Alcohol Intake
  • Control Your blood sugar
  • Stop smoking
  • Eat fewer high fat foods

Decrease VLDL Cholesterol

  • Eat fewer high fat foods
  • Increase the fiber in your diet
  • Stop Smoking