Actually, total cholesterol is:
Divide your triglyceride level by 5 and add that to the sum of your HDL and LDL cholesterol levels. (It's a little more than HDL + LDL)
Much of a person's cholesterol level is influenced by genetics (so one person may be a vegetarian and still have high cholesterol, while another eats lots of meat and has ok cholesterol). Your body makes cholesterol, so you get it even if you don't eat it. So you should ask your doctor if you need to cut back on cholesterol in your diet, or if you need a statin (if you think your cholesterol's high).
But, if you're worried about your cholesterol, it's super easy to get it checked. You'll have to do a fast and then have blood drawn at the doctor (if you call to schedule an appointment, they'll let you know exactly what to do). Normally you get the results in a couple of days -- you can see what your HDL, LDL, and triglycerides are, and your doctor will calculate your total cholesterol for you. The great thing is that they can check a lot more than just cholesterol -- your blood cell counts, iron, etc -- that will also help to give you a snapshot of your health and any issues you need to address.
My doctor mentioned that the total could even be above 200 if you have very high HDL (good cholesterol) and you'd be very healthy, so 200 isn't the magic number so much as being in a healthy range for each component separately. But 200's a good shorthand.
- 5/20/2009 9:31:27 AM