Four important questions you want to answer!

Four important questions you want to answer!

Just yesterday an acquaintance mentioned that his doctor was concerned about his cholesterol. Actually this happens with a fair amount of frequency. Folks read my newspaper articles so they know who I am. In fact, sometimes they come to examine my grocery cart at the store just to make sure I am really buying healthy stuff. 

Anyway, when the subject of cholesterol comes up I always ask the same questions. “What are your triglycerides and HDL?” They never know the answer. In fact they don’t even know what triglycerides and HDL are. I usually ask what their glucose level was; they don’t know that either.

And of course I am interested in what brought them to the doctor in the first place. Don’t start talking about your health if you don’t expect me to be interested. They do know the answer to this question.

Cholesterol, triglycerides, and HDL

What is this cholesterol thing? Read chapter 10, Cholesterol and Saturated Fat, in It’s All about the Food, for a short tutorial. And you can click here to read my most recent blog on the subject. Right now I just want to talk about triglycerides and HDL.

  • Triglycerides are the amount of fat floating around in a lipoprotein boat in your blood. Any amount above 150 (after fasting overnight) is too much. And in fact, down to a certain point the lower the better.
  • HDL is the name of the lipoprotein responsible for picking up trash in the blood (like damaged cholesterol) and taking it back to the lever. The report will say that top of the range on HDL is 50. However, this is the one measurement where a number much higher is better.  

Ideally the ratio of triglycerides to HDL would be about 1/1 or HDL higher than triglycerides. Generally speaking the higher your triglycerides, the lower your HDL will be. You can almost count on it. High triglycerides reflect one or perhaps all of the following:

  • A lot of dietary carbohydrate (sugar) is being converted by your liver into fat and shipped out into the blood stream for delivery. That extra fat is (at least) destined to be stored as body fat.
  •  Your amount of body fat exceeds your fat threshold (the amount you can store safely). When that happens the fat won’t stay stored and leaks out into the blood stream.
  • When you are unable to store fat and keep it in storage, your liver will stick that extra fat in and around your organs (where it DOES NOT BELONG). Voila’ fatty liver disease.

Ferret out your last lipid panel result and see how you stand.

Now about glucose

A different blood test report will provide a fasting glucose (blood sugar) number and the normal range would be 70 – 99.  Above 99 the report will say that you are prediabetic or diabetic.

But in truth if you are hanging right at the top of the range, you may be headed for trouble. If you have high triglycerides, low HDL, and higher blood sugar (glucose) this is a warning, a warning of potential cardiovascular issues.

Why did you go to the doctor?

If your triglycerides, HDL, and blood sugar are in good order, you probably went to the doctor only for your annual physical. But if you are being treated for one of the chronic diseases like diabetes, heart trouble, kidney disease, and the plethora of other conditions so common these days, you probably also have high triglycerides, low HDL, and high blood sugar. If you had known long ago you might have been able to fix the problem before it got out of hand.

Get your triglycerides, HDL, and blood sugar (glucose) under control. That happens with diet, not with pills.  Everything you need to know about diet is in the book, It’s All about the Food.