What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a wax-like type of fat produced in the liver, and taken in through the food we eat. A form of lipid, it is transferred to other parts of the body through the three types of lipoproteins present in blood:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). This is commonly known as the “bad cholesterol”. Having excessive LDL levels may lead to cholesterol build-up in the arteries, that can interfere with the flow of blood to other parts of the body. This can lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL). This is referred to as the “good cholesterol” as it carries away excessive LDL from other parts of the body, including the arteries.
- Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). This carries and transports triglyceride, a type of cholesterol produced from the food we consume and the calories stored in our bodies.
Doctors recommend the following values for healthy total blood (or serum) cholesterol levels:
- Combined LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels in the blood – less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl).
- LDL – less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL – greater than or equal to 60 mg/dL
- Triglycerides – less than 150 mg/dL
Currently, medical experts have yet to arrive at a consensus on what level of cholesterol should be considered hypocholesterolemia. However, some studies suggest that the total serum cholesterol level should be lower than 120 mg/dL to be considered hypocholesterolemia. Others say that it should be lower than 160 mg/dL, citing findings of increased mortality rate as compared to those with higher cholesterol levels.