HDL, which stands for high density lipoprotiens, carry cholesterol from the cells to the liver for excretion. This explains while HDLs are labeled as "good" since they take cholesterol out of the body. However, when there is an increase in levels of cholesterol (through genetics or the food we consume) the body uses LDLs, low density lipoprotiens, to carry it from the liver into the cells. This is bad news since LDLs produce toxins that form tiny lesions on the inner walls of the arteries. These lesions then attract triglycerides and other substances in the bloodstream. To make matters worse white bloods cells move into the site for repair and platelets also gather on the site. All of this causes a cloggy mess in the arteries and plaques slowly develop. If this continues and a person does not change their eating or exercise habits plaques build up leading to arteriolsclerosis which is the primary cause of heart disease.
So where did I go wrong? I exercise daily, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and healthy (non hydrogenated) fats. The good news is that these habits lead to high HDLs (recall this is the "good" type).
She advised that calories from fat should be less than 30%, the lower the better. I have never liked being a calorie counter (I hate the idea of using a calculator along side my fork and knife) but her suggestion is simple and duly noted. For a snack of 100 calories, 33 calories or less should be from fat.
The bad news is genetics play a role in LDLs. I recall about a year ago when my sibling (who has been a vegetarian for over 25 years) was given the same diagnosis. The fact is that the body produces enough cholesterol on its own for its metabolic needs. What we eat is just additional cholesterol the body has to deal with. Some of us (including myself) have the genes that make us susceptible to naturally higher levels of cholesterol even if we swear off fast food, donuts, and girl scout cookies. Does this mean that I am destined for heart disease? Absolutely not. However it does mean that MODERATION must be my guide. A square or two of dark chocolate must suffice for my sweet tooth even though I would like to do this every day...