What is HDL in a blood test: understanding cholesterol numbers (good and bad). High cholesterol levels are always associated with a variety of health problems. Starting from stroke, blood clots, to heart disease. However, a lack of cholesterol levels in the body can also cause many problems, precisely the lack of good cholesterol.
Good cholesterol in the medical world is called high-density lipoprotein (HDL). This type of cholesterol serves to maintain blood vessels, to prevent atherosclerosis.
What are HDL and LDL in blood tests?
HDL is known as good cholesterol because it helps the body remove bad cholesterol from the blood, as well as prevent fat from accumulating in blood vessels.
In contrast, high levels of ‘bad cholesterol’ or LDL (low-density lipoprotein) are associated with the development of plaque formation which can lead to a variety of clinical consequences such as coronary heart disease.
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Cholesterol screening recommendations
Each person is recommended to have regular cholesterol checks, at least once every five years. Before undergoing a cholesterol examination, you will be asked to fast first for 9–12 hours. Some additional information related to cholesterol examination that you need to know:
- Men are recommended to conduct cholesterol examinations from the age of 20-35 years, while women at the age of 20-45 years.
- If the first cholesterol test shows normal results, the next cholesterol test can be done every five years.
- If in its development a person becomes overweight or obese, a cholesterol examination should be done again even though it is not five years from the time of the first examination.
- Adults who have high cholesterol levels, or have concomitant diseases or chronic diseases, should have a cholesterol check more often and not wait five years.
Normal Adult Cholesterol Levels
- In general, healthy total cholesterol levels are below 200 mg/dL.
- Cholesterol levels of 200–239 mg/dL are considered to be at a high threshold. Cholesterol levels above 240 mg/dL are considered high.
- Good HDL levels are at least 60 mg/dL. LDL levels below 40 mg/dL include low.
- Good LDL levels are below 100 mg/dL. LDL levels above 160 mg/dL are considered high.
- Good triglyceride levels are less than 150 mg/dL. Triglyceride levels above 200 mg/dL are considered high.
Men’s Normal Cholesterol Levels
- Total cholesterol levels in men tend to be higher than in women.
- The total cholesterol amount should not exceed 200 mg/dL. Total cholesterol is the amount of LDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and other lipid components.
- The LDL amount is not more than 120 mg/dL.
- THE minimum HDL amount is 40 mg/dL.
- If the LDL level in the male body has exceeded 120 mg/dL, or the total cholesterol level in men exceeds 200 mg/dL, it can be said that he has a high cholesterol condition. In young men, this condition puts them at risk of heart disease.
- In men aged 45 years or older, usually, the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease will increase.
Women’s Normal Cholesterol Levels
- Normal cholesterol levels for women, especially LDL, should be kept below 100 mg/dL. For women who have heart disease risk factors, the upper limit of LDL levels is 70 mg/dL.
- LDL amounts reaching 130 mg/dL are considered a condition of high cholesterol.
- HDL levels in women tend to be higher than in men. The reason is, women have estrogen hormones that help keep HDL levels in their bodies higher. This condition will change when the woman has entered the menopause phase and lost estrogen. At this age, HDL levels can be defeated by LDL.
- Normal cholesterol levels for women (HDL) are at least 50 mg/dL.
What if HDL levels are high?
The greater the amount of cholesterol HDL, the better it’ll be for wellbeing. This is because HDL protects against heart disease. can help reduce the risk of heart disease when HDL levels are at least 60 mg / dL or more. In contrast, HDL levels of less than 40 mg/dL increase the risk of heart disease.
Causes of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol levels are usually caused by unhealthy lifestyles. Here are examples of actions that can trigger increased levels of cholesterol, especially LDL, in the blood:
- Often consume unhealthy foods, such as high in sugar and high in saturated fats. Examples of foods included in this group are butter, biscuits, cheese, cream, fast food, and other packaged foods.
- Rarely physical activity or exercise. It is also found to affect the increase of LDL in the body.
- Bad smoking habits also contribute to an increase in cholesterol. In cigarettes, there is a chemical called acrolein that can stop HDL activity transporting fat deposits from the body to the liver to be disposed of. As a result, there is a narrowing of blood vessels or atherosclerosis.
- Consuming alcoholic beverages. This habit can also increase LDL and triglyceride levels in the blood.
- Overweight or obese. People belonging to this category are those who have a body mass index (BMI) above 30 or a waist circumference of 102 cm in men and 89 cm in women. Overweight tend to increase LDL and triglyceride levels, as well as lower HDL levels.
- Have concomitant diseases, such as high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, thyroid disorders (hypothyroidism), liver disease, or kidney disease. To lower the risk of high cholesterol, concomitant diseases must be cured first.
- For both men and women, age increases the risk of rising cholesterol, as well as atherosclerosis.
What causes low HDL?
Low amounts of HDL can be caused by many things, namely smoking habits, being overweight, dieting high in refined carbohydrates (white bread, sugar, etc.), as well as a lack of physical activity that tends to lower HDL cholesterol levels in the body. Similarly, drugs, such as beta-blockers, anabolic steroids, progestins, and benzodiazepines can also suppress HDL levels.
To maintain normal cholesterol levels, prevent foods with trans fats. This fat is found in fried foods, margarine, and snacks like biscuits.
Here are some types of foods that you can consume to lower cholesterol levels in the blood:
- Fish that are good for the heart are mackerel, salmon, sardines, tuna because they are rich in omega 3.
- Oatmeal, rich in soluble fiber that can lower levels of bad cholesterol. You need 5-10 grams of soluble fiber in a day. One and a half cups of cooked oatmeal contains about 6 grams of fiber. To produce a more attractive taste you can add fruit on top of the oatmeal pulp.
- Nuts such as pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, and other types can reduce the risk of heart disease. You can replace fatty foods such as cheese and meat with legumes.
- Olive oil contains antioxidants that can lower levels of bad cholesterol. Use two tablespoons of olive oil a day for your salad or cuisine.
Foods that become cholesterol abstinence
Saturated fat is found in animal-flavored foodstuffs (e.g. meat and milk), as well as fried and packaged foods. Foods that have other saturated fats are cheese and meat that have a high-fat content, whole-fat milk or cream, butter, ice cream, coconut oil, or palm oil.
You do not need to avoid the consumption of foods containing saturated fats, but the amount should be limited. These saturated fats can increase levels of bad fats (LDL) in the blood and increase your risk of heart disease.
Trans fat should be avoided because it can raise levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) while lowering levels of good cholesterol (HDL) in the body. Cholesterol abstinence foods containing trans fats, namely pastry products, cookies, crackers, biscuits, donuts, fried foods, burgers, to pizza.
Eating foods that contain too much salt should also be used as cholesterol abstinence. Consumption of foods that use a lot of salt can increase cholesterol levels.
Excess salt content is usually found in packaged foods and snacks, but the lower salt content is also found in chicken and processed meats to sandwiches sold in fast food outlets.
Cholesterol abstinence can cause diabetes, heart attack, to weight gain. Although it is difficult, you have to limit the consumption of sugar contained in some foods, such as fizzy drinks, sweet tea, sweets, cakes, ice cream, and others.
Don’t forget, almost all foods or drinks usually also contain sugar, even those that may look sugar-free. Some of the foods in question, such ketchup or tonic water.
Excessive consumption of alcohol can trigger weight gain. When you are overweight, levels of bad cholesterol will increase. Besides, this condition also lowers the level of good cholesterol in your body.
To avoid these risks, men should not consume more than 2 glasses of alcohol a day. Meanwhile, women should only consume a maximum of 1 glass of alcohol per day.
Tips to Keep Cholesterol Levels Normal
There are many ways you can keep your normal adult cholesterol levels awake. Here are the recommended measures of the Ministry of Health. These measures are also effective for lowering already too high LDL levels.
Implementing a healthy diet
Limit the consumption of foods containing cholesterol and avoid alcoholic beverages. Eat more vegetables, fruits, and fish. Also, reduce the consumption of oily or fried foods and consume more baked, boiled, or steamed foods.
To reduce the use of oils, you can use non-stick cooking utensils, utilizing natural broths and seasonings such as vinegar and lime.
Lose excess weight
For those of you who currently weigh normal or a BMI of more than 30, immediately make weight loss efforts. By losing excess weight, cholesterol levels will also decrease.
Physical activity can improve cholesterol levels in the body. Try to exercise for 30–60 minutes each day. For example jogging, running, cycling, or swimming.
Smoking can increase the risk of coronary heart disease and accelerate plaque buildup in the arteries.