It's true that cholesterol is a main contributor to heart disease, but did you know that cholesterol is a necessary part of health? Cholesterol performs three important functions for your body. It protects your cells, making up the outer coating, which also facilitates movement of molecules in and out. Cholesterol is also part of your body's hormone-making process. Finally, cholesterol makes up bile, which is necessary for the proper digestion of fats.
Types of Cholesterol
There are three types of cholesterol your doctor will report back to you, each with its own normal guidelines. Total cholesterol is the accumulated amount of cholesterol in your blood stream. LDL cholesterol is the type of cholesterol that transports fats to the muscles and cells in your body for use. HDL cholesterol is considered "good" cholesterol because it picks up excess cholesterol in your blood and delivers it to your liver. Once there, the liver uses it and excretes it.
There are two main sources of cholesterol for your body. The first one may surprise you -- your body actually makes all of the cholesterol it needs. All of your cells have the ability to make cholesterol. Your liver makes enough extra cholesterol to facilitate the needs of your other cells. The second source is diet. All animal-based products that contain fat also contain cholesterol.
A Total Cholesterol of 177
If your total cholesterol is 177, there is good news for you. Your cholesterol is considered ideal by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Any total cholesterol result under 200 mg/dl is normal and healthy. If your total cholesterol begins to creep upward between 200 mg/dl and 239 mg/dl, it is borderline high. If your cholesterol is greater than 240 mg/dl, it is considered high.
Maintaining Good Cholesterol
You must strive to maintain a good cholesterol level through leading a healthy lifestyle. As you age, your cholesterol will become harder to control, so adopting healthy lifestyle habits now will make it easier for you to keep your cholesterol normal. You can work to maintain a healthy weight, monitor your intake of saturated fat and cholesterol and also get regular exercise. These three steps added to your life can make it possible to keep your cholesterol in a healthy range.