By Kayla Craig; Reviewed by Marion Franz, R.D., LD, CDE, 2009
While it's true that people with diabetes are more likely to experience cholesterol-related problems, simple lifestyle changes to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol can reduce cardiovascular complications by 20-50 percent.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol has a bad reputation, but it isn't all bad. It's actually essential to your body -- albeit in small amounts. Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance in your blood that's naturally produced by your body. It makes hormones, builds cells and tissues, and helps your body digest food.
Cholesterol is also found in foods from animals, such as egg yolks, meat, fish, poultry, and whole-milk dairy products. Serious health problems arise when high levels of LDL circulate in the bloodstream, building up on the inner walls of the arteries and leading to fatty deposits of plaque called atherosclerosis.
Two types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL
Recommended LDL level for people with diabetes: The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that people with diabetes have an LDL level below 100 mg/dl. If you have other cardiovascular risk factors, your health care provider may want your level to be below 70 mg/dl. A lower number is better.
Recommended HDL level for people with diabetes: According to the AHA, your HDL level should be above 40 mg/dl. The American Diabetes Association says HDL should be more than 50 mg/dl in women and 40 mg/dl in men. A higher number is better.
You can take control of your cholesterol
Dietary changes, regular exercise, and cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins can help you lower your LDL and raise your HDL. Our expert doctors and dietitians show you how to live a heart-healthy lifestyle with easy-to-follow tips.
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