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LDL Cholesterol Levels: Symptoms and Causes

LDL Cholesterol: 96mg/dL

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on January 3, 2023
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5 min

Measuring your LDL cholesterol levels is important for protecting your long-term health. A measurement of 96mg/dL is considered safe, but what does it mean? We explain what normal LDL cholesterol levels are, how to stay within the safe range, and the factors that contribute to high LDL.

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What Does an LDL 96mg/dL Mean? 

A 96mg/dL reading for low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is considered optimal for your health.

This means you have the right amount of LDL to transport cholesterol1 to tissue and body cells. Balanced cholesterol levels will decrease the risk2 of cancer, depression, preterm birth, anxiety, infectious diseases, and hemorrhagic strokes in older adults. 

You won’t get any symptoms of high blood cholesterol levels. Therefore, testing your total cholesterol is essential for maintaining the optimal measurement. 

LDL cholesterol levelsmg/dL
Normal✅<100
Elevated ❌101–159
High ❌160<

How Often Is It Recommended to Measure LDL Cholesterol Levels?

How often you need to check your LDL level depends on your health history. Most healthy adults should aim to have an LDL cholesterol test every 4–6 years. Those with diabetes, heart disease, or a family history of high cholesterol should get checked more frequently.

People aged 45–65 with a family history of unbalanced cholesterol levels need a test every 1–2 years3. Some may require tests once every 12 months to prevent health problems.

Children should have their total cholesterol checked between the ages of 9–114 and again as younger adults between the ages of 17–21.

This is only necessary if their parents have high cholesterol levels. If high cholesterol levels are hereditary in the family, it is important to get checked yearly

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How to Know if My Cholesterol Levels Are at an Optimal Level?

You can only determine your cholesterol levels by taking blood tests5. Doctors can measure how much low-density lipoprotein is circulating in your bloodstream. Getting regular tests ensures you don’t have an increased risk of coronary artery disease. 

A lipid profile is a test you will get when measuring LDL and HDL cholesterol. The doctor takes a blood sample from your finger or arm. People can get a cholesterol test for at-home use, which is good for keeping their long-term health in check. 

How to Maintain Optimal LDL Cholesterol?

There are many effective ways you can reach optimal cholesterol levels. Making small lifestyle changes is great for preventing severe heart problems. Remember that taking care of your health is key to achieving the recommended cholesterol guidelines.

Here are 5 ways to maintain optimal cholesterol levels: 

#1 Consume enough soluble fiber 

Consuming dietary fiber will control your cholesterol levels6. This is because fiber grabs onto LDL so that it gets excreted rather than absorbed. You should eat at least 25–30 grams7 of soluble fiber daily to prevent cholesterol from building up in your bloodstream. 

If feel that you are not reaching the recommended fiber intake amount, we would suggest taking fiber supplements

Research studies also prove that fiber reduces your appetite8. Soluble fiber turns into a gel-like substance that slows down digestion. The less hungry you feel throughout the day, the less likely you’ll binge eat or put on weight from unnecessary snacking. 

Some great fiber-rich foods to eat include:

  • Broccoli 
  • Avocado 
  • Dried fruits
  • Berries
  • Apples 
  • Pears
  • Chia seeds
  • Oranges 
  • Carrots
  • Bananas 
  • Almonds 

#2 Reduce saturated fats 

You need to reduce the amount of junk food you eat daily. 

Processed foods contain saturated fats that will lead to weight gain9, high cholesterol, and heart disease. A high saturated fat intake will disrupt total cholesterol and contribute to plaque build-up in your arteries, so it’s better to remove these foods as much as possible.

Foods like biscuits, sausages, cheese, bacon, butter, and cured meats contain saturated fat. They might be delicious, but they only feed bad cholesterol, not your gut. Instead, opt for good fats like avocado, salmon, olive oil, and whole eggs. 

#3 Reduce bad habits 

There are habits like smoking and binge eating that disturb optimal cholesterol levels. 

A study10 found that smoking makes LDL viscous, meaning this bad cholesterol can cling to your arteries and clog them. Clogged arteries are a huge risk of heart attacks – a medical emergency that occurs when your heart loses blood and oxygen. 

Binge eating, which refers to excessive food consumption, is one of the main risk factors for high cholesterol. You’re constantly feeding your body unhealthy ingredients. Plus, going over your recommended daily calorie intake will lead to weight gain. 

Also, sitting around all day can become a bad habit11 that people forget about. Living a sedentary lifestyle is one way to promote high cholesterol levels. Get moving when you can to balance out your total cholesterol and protect your cardiovascular health.

#4 Don’t forget to exercise 

Exercise stimulates important enzymes12 that move LDL from the bloodstream to your liver. Cholesterol is broken down into bile and excreted, which naturally increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – the good kind of cholesterol that protects your heart. 

People should get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise13 a day. This could be a simple morning walk or jogging session. Just remember that the more calories you burn, the more likely you’ll experience weight loss and greater HDL cholesterol levels.

#5 Drink more water 

Drinking plenty of water stops your blood from becoming acidic14. Dehydration can be the cause of high cholesterol because the body struggles to eliminate waste. You should always be drinking water throughout the day to improve your long-term heart health. 

The average daily recommendation15 is 12 cups for men and 9 cups for women. Just be aware that you won’t feel noticeable changes after one day of drinking more water. It usually takes 2–3 weeks for your body to adjust to the increased water intake. 

Other Ways to Maintain Optimal LDL Levels

Here are some other ways to maintain optimal cholesterol: 

  • Eliminate trans fats 
  • Consume more protein 
  • Take omega-3 supplements
  • Limit your alcohol intake 
  • Reduce stress 
  • Eat more nuts 
  • Reduce meal portions 
  • Get more sleep 
  • Take a total cholesterol test
  • Check your medication 
  • Consult with a doctor regularly
From what age is it recommended to check LDL cholesterol?

urrent guidelines show that children over the age of 916 can get their total cholesterol checked. This is necessary for those with a family history of high blood cholesterol. Some children get a test between the ages of 9–11 and then once more between 17–21 years old. 

What makes the most impact on LDL cholesterol? 

Saturated fats in food can make LDL high and HDL cholesterol very low. This is because fat contributes to weight gain – a risk factor for obesity. Being overweight increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and narrow blood vessels. 

References
  1. Yasaman Pirahanchi, Hadeer Sinawe, Manjari Dimri. (2012). Biochemistry, LDL Cholesterol. National Center for Biotechnology Information: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519561/ 
  2. Arshna Qureshi, Sudeshna Ghosh, Kumar Ashish, Lyndsey R. Heise, Adrija Hajra, and Raktim K. Ghosh. (2018). Safety and Efficacy of Extremely Low LDL-Cholesterol Levels and Its Prospects in Hyperlipidemia Management. Journal of Lipids: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jl/2018/8598054/ 
  3. Medical Research. LDL: The “Bad” Cholesterol. (2020). Medlineplus: https://medlineplus.gov/ldlthebadcholesterol.html 
  4. Medical Article. Blood Cholesterol – Diagnosis. (2022). National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: http://nhlbi.nih.gov/health/blood-cholesterol/diagnosis 
  5. Get a Cholesterol Test. (2022). Centers of Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/cholesterol_screening.htm 
  6. Prasanth Surampudi, Byambaa Enkhmaa, Erdembileg Anuurad & Lars Berglund. (2016). Lipid Lowering with Soluble Dietary Fiber. Medical article. Springerlink: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27807734/
  7. Diane Quagliani, MBA, RDN, LDN, Patricia Felt-Gunderson, MS, RDN, LDN. (2016). Closing America’s Fiber Intake Gap: Communication Strategies From a Food and Fiber Summit. Medical Research. Sage Journals: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6124841/ 
  8. Michelle J. Clark MS, Joanne L. Slavin Ph.D. (2013). The Effect of Fiber on Satiety and Food Intake: A Systematic Review.  Journal of the American College of Nutrition: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23885994/ 
  9. American Heart Association Team. (2021). Saturated Fats. A Blog Article. American Heart Association: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/saturated-fats# 
  10. Adam D. Gepner, MD. Megan E. Piper, Ph.D., Heather M. Johnson, MD, Michael C.Fiore, MD, MPH, Timothy B. Baker, Ph.D., James H. Stein, MD. (2010). Effects of smoking and smoking cessation on lipids and lipoproteins: Outcomes from a randomized clinical trial. Clinical Investigation. ScienceDirect: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0002870310008926?via%3Dihub 
  11. James A. Levine. (2015). Sick of sitting. A review article by SpringerLink: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-015-3624-6 
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3906547/
  13. Edward R. Laskowski, M.D. (2021). How much should the average adult exercise every day? Answer provided in MayoClinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/exercise/faq-20057916#
  14. G. Song, M. Li, H. Sang, L. Zhang, X. Li, S. Yao, Y. Yu, C. Zong, Y. Xue, S. Qin, G. Song. (2013). Hydrogen-rich water decreases serum LDL-cholesterol levels and improves HDL function in patients with potential metabolic syndrome. A research article. Journal of Lipid Research: https://www.jlr.org/article/S0022-2275(20)42136-4/fulltext#%20 
  15. Arend-Jan Meinders, Arend E Meinders. (2010). How much water do we really need to drink? National Center for Biotechnology Information: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20356431/ 
  16. High Cholesterol in Children and Teens. (2019). Medical Journal. Medlineplus: https://medlineplus.gov/highcholesterolinchildrenandteens.html 
HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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