What Is the Fat Content in Your Blood?

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Eating foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains are good for your cholesterol levels.
Eating foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains are good for your cholesterol levels. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Blood fats, also known as blood lipids, include cholesterol and triglycerides found in the blood. Cholesterol is needed for making hormones, vitamin D synthesis and to help digest food, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Cholesterol is made in the liver but it is also found in some food. It is made up of high-density lipoproteins and low-density lipoproteins. Triglycerides are also made by the body and are found in some food such as meat and oil.

Good Cholesterol

High-density lipoproteins are considered to be good cholesterol. HDLs take extra cholesterol from the arteries to the liver where they are taken out of the body. The National Cholesterol Education Program reports that a low HDL level is 40 milligrams per deciliter and needs to be at least 60 milligrams per deciliter. An increased HDL level may decrease your risk for heart disease. The Good Cholesterol Study, published in “Circulation” in 2005 reported that HDL can be increased with weight loss, exercise and quitting smoking will raise HDL levels. Increasing whole grains, fruits, vegetables and small amounts of wine is also linked to higher HDL levels.

Bad Cholesterol

Low-density lipoproteins are the bad cholesterol. LDLs build up in the walls of the arteries, called plaque, which decreases blood flow. You will be at a higher risk for heart attacks and strokes because of limited blood flow. An optimal LDL level is less than 100 milligrams per deciliter and near or above optimal is 100 to 129 milligrams per deciliter. Smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, low HDL and a family history of heart disease negatively affect your LDL. Eating a healthier diet by adding foods that are good for HDL and becoming physically active will improve your LDL levels.

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are another type of fat found in your blood. Most of the fats in your body are triglycerides, and they also help make up cholesterol, with HDLs and LDLs. The triglycerides in your blood should not exceed 150 milligrams per deciliter, reports the American Heart Association. If your triglycerides are too high, they can put you at risk for coronary artery disease. If you have high triglycerides you can decrease them by losing weight, decreasing your saturated fat intake, increasing your unsaturated fat intake, being physically active and eating a healthier diet to include fruits and vegetables.

Eating Fats for Health

Fat is essential for your health, but not all types of fat are bad. Saturated fats and trans fats are considered to be the bad fats because they can raise your cholesterol levels. Saturated fats include butter, lard, whole fat milk and ice cream. Trans fats include pastries, packaged foods, shortening, fried foods and candy bars. Unsaturated fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, are the good fats and are good for your cholesterol and heart. Avocados, olive oil, canola oil, peanuts, almonds and peanut butter are examples of monounsaturated fats. Examples of polyunsaturated fats include walnuts, salmon, flaxseeds, tuna and soybean oil.

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