A total cholesterol level of 200-239 mg/dl is classified as borderline high cholesterol level. This means that cholesterol is above normal, but not quite in the high range yet.
Borderline cholesterol may be caused by numerous factors which are divided into factors one can control and factors one cannot control.
To exclude the risk of developing any cardiovascular disease, one should undergo a number of lifestyle changes that include dietary changes, physical activity, quitting smoking, and sometimes taking cholesterol-lowering drugs.
What does it mean to have a total cholesterol level of 200-239 mg/dl?
A total cholesterol level of 200-239 mg/dl is classified as borderline cholesterol. This means that your cholesterol level is above normal, but not quite in the high range yet.
Having a total cholesterol level of 200-239 mg/dl increases the risk of cardiovascular events. In calculating the risk of this event, your doctor must also consider:
· The levels of LDL or “bad cholesterol”
· The levels of HDL or “good cholesterol”
· If having other diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or smoking.
Total Cholesterol level less than 200 mg/dl – What are the Causes?
Borderline hypercholesterolemia is due to some factors. These factors are divided into factors one can control, and factors, one cannot control.
1. Factors that one can control:
· What you eat- certain foods have types of fat that can raise your cholesterol levels. Some of these foods are foods containing saturated fats(which can increase your cholesterol level more than anything you eat), and foods rich in cholesterol and in trans fats.
· Your weight- Being overweight increases your LDL cholesterol levels and decreases your HDL cholesterol levels.
· Your activity- The lack of physical activity and a sedentary life can lead to weight gain, increases your LDL cholesterol levels, and decreases your HDL levels.
2. Factors that one cannot control”
· Heredity- High cholesterol levels can run in families.
Age and sex- Starting from puberty, men have higher LDL cholesterol levels than women. After the age of 55 years old, women have higher LDL cholesterol levels than men.
What is the risk level for a total Cholesterol level of 200-239 mg/dl?
A total cholesterol level of 200-239 mg/dl or borderline high cholesterol level (hypercholesterolemia) is considered a bridge that links normal cholesterol level and high cholesterol level.
There is no value within this interval that is considered as a sort of baseline, above which the levels of cholesterol are considered to be more harmful than the levels of cholesterol below it.
On the contrary, having a cholesterol number within this interval is a sign of alarm: Lifestyle changes must be made in order to prevent further complications.
How to prevent cardiovascular events?
Even having cholesterol at a borderline high level is considered a risk for cardiovascular events. To prevent it from happening, one must undergo some lifestyle changes, in an attempt to lower cholesterol levels. The lifestyle changes are as follows:
1. Dietary changes :
· Choose healthier fats- decrease saturated fats intake to only 7% or less of your daily calories. Choose monounsaturated fats( commonly found in olive, peanut, canola oil, etc) instead, they are a healthier option.
· Limit your daily cholesterol intake- aim for no more than 300 mg of cholesterol per day. If you suffer from any heart disease, you should not consume more than 200 mg of cholesterol per day.
· Eliminate trans fats- Found in every fast food production, and in commercial products such as cookies, snacks, and crackers, trans fats not only increase your “bad cholesterol (LDL)”, but they also decrease your “good cholesterol (HDL)”.
· Consume whole grains- Try to consume whole grain pasta, whole grain flour, whole grain bread, etc. Whole grains have many compounds that promote heart health.
· Consume fiber-rich foods- both, soluble and insoluble types of fibers have health benefits, but soluble fibers commonly found in fruits and vegetables help to decrease LDL levels
· Consume Omega-3 fatty acid- Although it does not affect LDL levels, it is very beneficial for heart health because it increases good cholesterol (HDL) and lowers triglycerides
2. Exercising– Exercising improves your cholesterol level, it lowers bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol levels. Exercise at least 30 min a day( unless medical problems like cardiovascular disease or any other serious health issue). You might consider: riding a bicycle, swimming laps, walking, playing a favorite sport, etc.
3. Quit smoking– if a smoker, quitting smoking is very beneficial. It increases HDL levels, among other health benefits.
4. Losing weight– if overweight, losing 5-10 % of your body weight lowers your LDL level and increases your HDL cholesterol.
5. Consider some cholesterol-lowering supplements- such as Artichoke extract, Barely, Blond psyllium, Flaxseed, Green tea extract, Oat bran, Niacin, etc.
6. Drugs– Sometimes the aforementioned lifestyle changes are not enough. In this case, your doctor may prescribe you cholesterol-lowering drugs. Take them as prescribed, but continue with the lifestyle changes.