Stating the obvious: “Life is more than a number. . . Because systems of the body are interconnected, good health is related to more than one thing. . .Instead of looking at a number, ask yourself questions about your lifestyle.” . .. Compliments Diane Schwarzbein, M.D. Endocrinologist, from her 1999 edition of The Schwarzbein Principle--- with a few notes as follows:

Your lab cholesterol-profile report shows the results of the triglycerides, total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and VLDL levels. These levels are all mathematically related to each other in the following ways:

Total cholesterol = HDL + LDL + VLDL (VLDLs = triglycerides divided by 5). Therefore triglycerides contribute to your total cholesterol level.

Another way of putting it is as follows:

Total cholesterol = HDL + LDL + triglycerides divided by 5.

When evaluating the three lipoproteins (LDL, VLDL and HDL), higher HDLs and lower VLDLs are desirable. . . .You also want the VLDLs and triglycerides to be lower EVEN if this means accepting higher total cholesterol and LDL levels.

So, which cholesterol panel would you say is better?

Panel 1. Total Cholesterol 240 = HDL 60 + LDL 160 + VLDL 20; Tg = 100

Panel 2. Total Cholesterol 180 = HDL 60 + LDL 80 + VLDL 40; Tg = 200

Answer: Panel 1 is the better panel because you want the VLDLs and triglycerides to be lower even if this means accepting higher total cholesterol and LDL levels.

Two additional tools for evaluating your cholesterol profile:

Check your HDL to total cholesterol ratio. HDL percentage is a potent heart disease risk factor. Just divide your HDL level by your cholesterol. This ratio should ideally be above 24 percent.
Boost your good cholesterol and lower your triglyceride levels. High triglycerides are also a very potent risk factor for heart disease. In combination, high triglycerides and low HDL levels are an even bigger risk; this ratio is far more important to your heart health than the standard good vs. bad cholesterol ratio. In fact, one study found that people with the highest ratio of triglycerides to HDL had 16 times the risk of heart attack as those with the lowest ratio of triglycerides to HDL. You calculate your triglyceride/HDL cholesterol ratio by dividing your triglyceride level by your HDL level. This ratio should ideally be below 2. So while you strive to keep your HDL cholesterol levels up, you'll want to decrease your triglycerides. You can increase your HDL levels by exercising and getting plenty of omega-3 fats like those from krill oil. Triglycerides are easily decreased by exercising and avoiding grains and sugars in your diet. (Read more.)

Additional information from Michael R. Eades and Mary Dan Eades, MDs Protein Power LifePlan, c2000:

Despite its bad rap sheet, LDL becomes disoriented only if it becomes damaged, which chiefly occurs by being rusted by oxygen or caramelized by blood sugar. No matter how high the LDL levels in the blood, only that which is oxidized or glycated (altered by the attachment of blood sugar) will feed cholesterol to developing arterial plaques and promote the development of artherosclerosis. Still, the higher the amount of LDL that is floating around in the blood, the more likely that some of it will be damaged. . . .Unlike HDL. . A simple total of LDL reading doesn't provide enough useful information to assess your heart disease risk. The subclasses of LDL clearly alter the clinical picture. . . Unfortunately, the LDL reading reported by most laboratory tests doesn't even actually measure the LDL itself. Instead it measures the total amount of cholesterol, the triglycerides, and the HDL fraction – all of which are inexpensive to measure – and then uses three parameters to derive the LDL reading by mathematical calculation called the Freidwald equation: LDL = total cholesterol – HDL cholesterol – triglycerides /5 . . .A Harvard medical research team led by J. Michael Gaziano . . .concluded that the triglycerides and the HDL cholesterol tests were the most sensitive indicators of who was at risk and who was not. Specifically, they felt that a ratio derived by dividing the triglycerides reading by the HDL reading predicted most accurately of all who would have a heart attack. . . . Reduced insulin stimulants create improved “numbers” which for the Eades is an LDL below 190 and total cholesterol below 250. They “treat” high LDLs with niacin. Then they conclude with : Recently published research has shown that the two readings most predictive of who will have a heart attack are not the amount of the “bad” LDL. Instead your best assessment of risk comes from your triglycerides-to-HDL ratio, the lower the ratio the lower you risk of heart disease. A reading of 5 is set at the break point. Above 5, there's more risk and the farther above the more risk. Conversely below 5 risk decreases.

Also from Schawarzbein, relating blood pressure and cholesterol to heart disease:

Statistically there are just as many people having and dying of heart attacks with total cholesterol levels below 200 as there are with total cholesterol above 200. . . .A high insulin lifestyle is the cause of heart disease. See this list of insulin stimulants

High blood pressure (160 or more systolic and 90 or more diastolic), root causes of:

High insulin levels result in high blood pressure in 2 ways:

1. Insulin causes an abnormal increase of salt retention at the kidney level. Increased salt in the system increases water retention. More overall fluid means higher blood pressure. 2. Insulin overstimulates the nervous system, which increases blood pressure. The amount of blood pumped out by each contraction of the heart is increased and the artery wall becomes stiffer.