Know Your Numbers


by Becca Egan, BS, NASM-CPT

Cholesterol levels should be measured at least once every five years in everyone over age 20. The screening test that is usually performed is a blood test called a lipid profile. Experts recommend that men ages 35 and older and women ages 45 and older be more frequently screened for lipid disorders.

Total Cholesterol

Your total blood cholesterol is a measure of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and other lipid components. Your doctor will use your total cholesterol number when determining your risk for heart disease and how best to manage it. 

LDL Cholesterol

Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries and increase your chances of getting heart disease. That is why LDL cholesterol is referred to as "bad" cholesterol. The lower your LDL cholesterol number, the lower your risk. If your LDL is 190 or more, it is considered very high. 

HDL Cholesterol

When it comes to High density lipoprotein cholesterol -- "good" cholesterol – a higher number means lower risk. This is because HDL cholesterol protects against heart disease by taking the "bad" cholesterol out of your blood and keeping it from building up in your arteries.


Triglycerides are the form in which most fat exists in food and the body. A high triglyceride level has been linked to higher risk of coronary artery disease. Here's the breakdown.

How can you lower your cholesterol? 

  1. Aerobic exercise - at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise each week
  2. Healthy fats - include a variety of nuts, seeds, nut butters, fish, and healthy oils like olive and coconut in your diet

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