High cholesterol: Keeping it in check

Almost two in five American adults live with high cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, putting 40 percent of adults at an increased risk for developing potentially serious health complications.

The most concerning of those complications being stroke and the development of various forms of heart disease.

With no signs or symptoms of rising or high cholesterol, it can only be checked and fully assessed following a blood test.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is how the body packages lipids, a fatty, waxy substance, which are used for many important functions in the body, such as storying energy and building new, healthy cells.

Naturally occurring, cholesterol is categorized as low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

What’s good? What’s bad?

LDL is the often referred to as the “bad cholesterol,” because it is the type that contributes to clogged blood vessels. It’s the LDL that builds up on the walls of the arteries, with this plaque narrowing the arteries, a leading risk factor for strokes and heart attacks.

Conversely, HDL is considered the “good cholesterol” and for good reason. HDL absorbs cholesterol and fat in the blood, carrying it to the liver, where it will be naturally removed from the body.


With high cholesterol a significant risk factor for the development of heart disease and a stroke, physicians encourage everyone to know their numbers.


Total cholesterol: under 200 | LDL: under 100 | HDL: 60 and above


Total cholesterol: 200-239 | LDL: 100-159 | HDL: 40-59 (male) 50-59 (female)


Total cholesterol: 240 and above | LDL: 160 and above | HDL: under 40 (male) under 50 (female)

Cholesterol, both “good” and “bad,” is impacted by the foods we eat — avoid those foods high in saturated fats that contribute to higher cholesterol and consider those that promote healthy cholesterol.

High in cholesterol

  • Red meat
  • Sweats/Baked goods
  • Fried foods
  • Full-fat dairy
  • Butter

Aid in lowering cholesterol

  • Legumes/Nuts
  • Avocados
  • Fish
  • Whole grains
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Dark chocolate
  • Garlic