Is your Cholesterol too high?

A high cholesterol increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, cholesterol is also important and useful. Cholesterol is an essential nutrient for your body as its needed for your body cells (end brain cells!), gallbladder and hormones.

Most cholesterol is made by your liver. Only a small part is taken from your nurition. This dietary cholesterol is absorbed into the blood and transported to the liver via the intestines. Cholesterol is transported through the bloodstream to the body’s cells, where it serves as a building material.

Risk Factor
High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease. Other risk factors include, for example, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity. Heredity also plays a role. The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk.

Cholesterol Metabolism
Cholesterol is packaged in the body in lipoproteins. This “wrappinf” is required to transport the cholesterol through the blood to right place in the body. There are three main types of lipoproteins: LDL and HDL and VLDL. The package determines if the cholesterol is “bad” or “good.”

The HDL carries excess cholesterol as much as possible back to the liver. Then the HDL cholesterol is used again or leaves the body through the feces. HDL cholesterol is a good cleaner. The more HDL you have, the better!

LDL is often called ‘bad’ cholesterol. Because excess and especially oxidized (sticky) LDL-cholesterol accumulates in the vascular walls. This can cause narrowing of the blood vessels and in the long rund can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Low LDL levels seems to avoid health, but more important is to prevent oxidation of LDL, by avoiding fast sugars in your diet.

Triglycerides are fats in the blood. Triglycerides can, just as LDL, accumulate in the vascular wall. When we have more calories in the body than which we use at the excess calories (sugars and carbohydrates) are converted into triglycerides.

VLDL transports the triglycerides (fats) from the intestine to the liver.

Total cholesterol is only one component to determine your risk for heart disease. Your doctor will also look at:

  • LDL levels
  • HDL levels
  • Triglycerides Content

A high HDL-cholesterol is considered beneficial. A high LDL cholesterol and high triglyceride levels are seen as unfavorable. (HDL-cholesterol allows for transport of cholesterol from the vessel wall back to the liver. The higher the HDL-cholesterol, the better is the removal of excess cholesterol to the liver).

Cholesterol Ratio and risk estimation
High cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The doctor will decide if you have other risk factors to determine if your risk of heart disease is increased and whether medications are necessary.

To make a good estimate of your risk for heart disease, the doctor will determine the cholesterol ratio. The cholesterol ratio is total cholesterol divided by HDL levels. A high HDL level indicates a low cholesterol ratio. The cholesterol ratio is a better predictor of cardiovascular disease than the total cholesterol value. Women on average have higher HDL cholesterol than men.

Discuss the cholesterol test results and your family history with your doctor. When a suspected hereditary high cholesterol, your doctor will refer you to a specialist. This is described in the guidelines of General Practitioners (NHG).

In general, the classification retained in the table below with the results of the total cholesterol.

Target values total cholesterol (TC)

Your total cholesterol (TC) is: Your cholesterol is:
below < 5 mmol/l


5,0-6,4 mmol/l

6,5 – 7,9 mmol/l

above > 8,0 mmol/l



lightly increased


strongly increased

Cholesterol ratio


(Total cholesterol / HDL cholesterol)

< 4  is healthy
HDL > 1,0 = OK   (>1,5 is healthy)
LDL < 4,5 = OK   (<3 is healthy)
Triglycerides < 2,2 = OK   (<1,7 is healthy)


Advice for increased cholesterol levels:
The most obvious is Dr. Verburg in his recent book The food hourglass (2012, Bert Bakker)
His conclusion is short: Cholesterol is important for the body, the body produces it and needs it!

Dr. Verburg provides a clear example of this remarkable opinion: He compares Japanese with Israelis, the Japanese seem to have high cholesterol as well as a low incidence of heart disease! He calls the Israelis despite their low cholesterol remarkably correct many common cardiovascular diseased.
A startling conclusion that the cholesterol world and the fight against it nice upside-down, or at least seriously nuanced.

Practical tips:

  1. To prevent adhesion; Avoid refined sugars and fructose in your diet (see glycemic index)
  2. Prevent oxidation of LDL; eat lots of flavonoids from fresh fruits and vegetables. The most effective are the polyphenols in red fruit, in particular certain grapes (read more about Polyphenols)
  3. Cook, bake and frying with olive oil (or coconut oil), known to reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol levels when too high. (I.e. not with butter, sunflower oil, etc.)