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  • Writer's pictureBeth Kitchin PhD RDN

February is American Heart Month! Do You Know Your Numbers?

Hello Everyone!


After this morning’s Good Day Alabama segment, I was thrilled to see many new subscribers who want to learn more about heart health! Welcome to you all and thank you for subscribing. And thank you to my long-time subscribers too! I’m happy that so many people are interested in heart health.

Heart disease is still the number one killer of Americans. The good news is that we know a lot about heart health and heart disease. There’s so much you can do to show your heart the love and appreciation it deserves! So, let’s start with what we talked about this morning on the show:


Do you know your numbers? A lipid panel is a blood test that measures your blood fat levels. Lipid just means “fat”. The lipid panel can tell you a lot about your risk for heart disease.


Who should get a lipid panel? Always talk to your doctor about how often you should get one. Here are the general guidelines: 

· Age 19 or younger: Every 5 years starting at 9 years-old

· Age 20 to 65:

  • Every 5 years for younger adults

  • Men ages 45 to 65 every 1 to 2 years

  • women ages 55 to 65 every 1 to 2 years.

· Everyone Older than 65: Every Year

What Do They Measure on the Lipid Panel?

Lipids are measured in mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter of blood). Triglycerides, LDL’s (low-density lipoproteins), HDL’s (high density lipoproteins) and total cholesterol are all part of the lipid panel.

Heart Healthy Levels:

Triglycerides: Under 150 mg/dl

o   Triglycerides are the saturated and unsaturated fats in your food, and they show up in your blood.

LDL Cholesterol: Under 100 mg/dl

o   LDL’s are not in your food. When you eat foods with fat and cholesterol, they go to your liver where it packages them into carriers called lipoproteins. The lipoproteins go out into your bloodstream where your body’s cells can use them for energy storage and other uses. When LDL’s are high, they can “stick” to the sides of your arteries and cause blockages. This is why you often hear them called the “bad cholesterol”.

HDL Cholesterol: Over 60 mg/dl

o   This is what you hear called “good cholesterol”.  You don’t eat HDL’s. Like LDL’s, your liver packages fats and cholesterol into these carriers.

o   You want HDL’s to be high because they carry cholesterol and fat out of your blood – lowering your risk for heart disease.

Total Cholesterol: Under 200 mg/dl

o   Cholesterol is in animal foods that are high in fat. The liver also makes cholesterol. You need cholesterol for some important functions in the body. Cholesterol maintains cell membranes and is part of some hormones. Your liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs. Your liver packages cholesterol into the LDL’s and HDL’s.

o   Too much cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease.

Luckily, if your levels are not optimal, you may be able to get them to a healthy range with diet and exercise.

A heart healthy plan includes:

·       plant fats like oils, avocados, nuts, and seeds,

·       fiber from whole grains, fruits, vegetables

·       lean meats and chicken,

·       fatty fish like salmon and sardines

·       lots of fruits and vegetables

·       moderate exercise

There are other risk factors for heart disease – it’s not all about blood lipids. Body weight and blood pressure are also important. All the habits listed above help lower blood pressure too!

For some guidance on how to eat a heart healthy eating style go to:


We’ll talk more about heart health throughout February. As always, I welcome any questions from you. Use the comments or messaging section on my blog.


Get strong and stay strong!



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Feb 08

I have triglycerides at 260 LDL 104 and HDL 46 with a total of 206. I am wondering about the best foods to eat so that I don't have to take atrovastatin because I'm have some side affects of muscle pain and weakness....Also my TSH was at 4.26 and was wondering if any suggestions for that

Beth Kitchin
Beth Kitchin
Feb 11
Replying to

Thanks for you comment! I don't have any dietary recommendations for elevated TSH - that would be a question for your doctor.. But if you go this link, you will find lots of info on plant-based diets that can help with blood fats. I will probably do my segment on Tuesday on this topic!

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