HDL, the so-called "good" cholesterol should be 40 milligrams per deciliter or higher, LDL, the "bad" cholesterol should be less than 100 and triglycerides should be less than 150.
Now that you know the proper levels, here's eight simple steps to help you fight against high cholesterol.
- Cut down on dietary fat. Overall, no more than 30 percent of your daily calories should come from fat.
- Include more soluble fiber in your diet. Fruits and vegetables, beans and bran are popular sources because they interfere with the absorption of dietary cholesterol.
- Exercise every day. Moderate exercise, such as walking, done for 30 minutes at least three to four times a week, will lower your overall risk.
- Avoid foods high in saturated fats. Foods such as prime beef, "dark meat" poultry and poultry skin, butter and other whole-milk dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm and palm kernel oils raises the level of cholesterol in your blood, which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Replace most saturated fats. Substitute butter and lard with polyunsaturated oils such as safflower or soybean oil and monounsaturated oils such as olive oil.
- Lose excess weight. Excess weight raises total cholesterol and lowers HDL levels. Fortunately, combining a low-fat diet with a regular exercise program makes it easier to take weight off - and keep it off.
- Eat more fatty fish. Fish such as salmon or cod contain omega-3 fatty acids, which may help raise HDL and lower total cholesterol.
- Stop smoking. Cigarette smokers have lower HDL levels and an increased risk for coronary disease.
Evidence suggests a higher HDL level can help prevent coronary disease, just as a higher LDL level increases the risk factors for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Start practicing these eight steps today to lower your risk. Not sure of your numbers? Schedule a visit with your primary care doctor today to have your cholesterol checked.