Natural Health Journals

Check your Cholesterol – Heart Health

by Mike Carlson

YOU SHOULD GET A complete cholesterol check every five years, according to a new set of national guidelines governing cholesterol measurement and treatment. And make sure to ask for a “full lipid profile,” which measures LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, HDL (“good”) cholesterol and triglycerides.

The new guidelines use a sliding scale for LDL, meaning that the higher your risk for heart attack, the lower the LDL measure should be. While earlier guidelines deemed HDL levels under 35 to be “low,” the updated standards give 40 as the minimum; below this number is considered unhealthy. An HDL count of 60 or more is regarded as protective against heart disease. The new guidelines lower the upper limit for triglycerides from 200 to 150.

“Once you find out what your levels are, then discuss with your doctor where they need to be, given other health risks [such as any cardiovascular disease], and what you can do to get them there,” says Lynne Kirk, M.D., F.A.C.P., of the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine. Lifestyle plays a big role in controlling your cholesterol, she adds, so in addition to maintaining a healthy weight and exercising, aim to:

  • Reduce saturated fats in your diet to less than 7 percent of total calories, and lower dietary cholesterol to less than 200 milligrams per day.
  • Consume foods with plant stanols/sterols (two grams per day)–these are present in certain margarines and salad dressings.
  • Eat 10 to 25 grams per day of soluble fiber, which is found in apples, peas, beans, oats and nuts (you should eat approximately 25 to 30 grams of total fiber per day).

For more information on the new guidelines, check out cholesterol/presskit.htm, or

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