Good, or bad? Discussions around cholesterol are often confusing. Before we take a deeper look at the subject, it is important for everyone to know – cholesterol is vital for our body. Our body uses cholesterol to make cell tissues, protect nerves, and make some hormones.

But, what is Cholesterol? This waxy substance is a type of lipid, just as fats are. However, it is very important to know that - unlike fat, you can’t burn cholesterol with exercises, and body can’t use it as a source of energy.

Our liver produces the Cholesterol needed by our body. In addition, most of the animal products we consume, including meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and high-fat dairy products – are rich sources of cholesterol.

Body transports fats and cholesterol in the bloodstream by coating them with a water-soluble bubble of protein – called ‘lipo-protein’.

  • Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) carry cholesterol to tissues. High LDL levels are linked to higher risks of heart disease and are considered ‘bad’.
  • High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) carry excess cholesterol back to the liver and are considered ‘good’. Liver processes, and excretes the cholesterol.
What are the ideal Cholesterol levels?

A lipid-profile test would reveal the quantity of different types of cholesterols in our body.

Some rough guidelines:

  • The total cholesterol reading should be approximately equal to the sum of LDL, HDL, and other lipoproteins.
  • Ideally – for every 1 mg of HDL, the total cholesterol should be under 3.5 mg
  • Aim for a total cholesterol level of under 200 mg/ dl. Younger people should aim for even lower levels (~ 150 to 180).
  • Lower the LDL, the better. Prevent LDL to cross 130 mg/ dl
  • Higher the HDL, the better. Levels of 60 and higher reduce the risks of heart disease


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