Dr. Tommy

Concierge Medicine Tampa Bay


Is there such a thing as a 'healthy cholesterol level'?
Cholesterol is a molecule that is produced predominantly in the liver of all healthy individuals. It is a vital part of all cell membranes and is a precursor for your body's hormones and vitamin D. However in some individuals, the levels of cholesterol, particulary 'bad cholesterol' LDL can be too high. There are a number of reasons for this including overconsumption of fatty foods and simple genetics. I have a number of patients who follow healthy diets, but have persistently high LDL. For these patients, their genetics have predisposed them to having high levels of cholesterol.

So simply put:
LDL = "bad cholesterol"
Your LDL should be 160, or less depending on your other risk factors and medical history. For instance diabetics should strive for a LDL around 70 mg/dL.

HDL = "good cholesterol"
Transports fat molecules around the body through the bloodstream and back to the liver for processing. This level should be at least 40 mg/dL, but higher is better.

I tell patients HDL are the garbage trucks to the body's LDL garbage, with the arteries being the streets. Too much garbage or too little garbage trucks and you are going to have a problem.

Lastly included in the "cholesterol" discussion is a fatty molecule called a triglyceride. Although not really a type of cholesterol, triglycerides are included the category of "lipids" which includes cholesterol AND triglycerides. When people talk about "cholesterol", triglycerides are usally included as well. Your triglycerides should be less than 150 mg/dL.

Managing these levels through a healthy diet and exercise regimen with medicaiton as needed are key in preventing atherosclerosis: