Finding your LDL HDL cholesterol ratio is an important part of leading a healthy life. It allows you to monitor your intake of cholesterol at large, and it also provides you with detailed information on the amount of bad and good cholesterol in your system. Taking a test to determine this, usually means not eating a meal beforehand, and having blood drawn to check the lipid content.

The overall count for cholesterol should fall below the 200 mark, but two people under 200 could still have very different ratios in terms of how much bad to good cholesterol is in their system.

Determining the Ratio:

To determine the overall balance between good and bad, doctors divide the total number of cholesterol in your bloodstream by the number of HDL or good cholesterol. This gives them a number over one, which provides insight as to whether or not you need to change your diet, or in extreme cases use medication to lower bad cholesterol.

Although the number one way to find your LDL HDL cholesterol ratio is by visiting your doctor for a blood test, there are now kits on the market which allow you to perform these tests for yourself. As with all home medical tests, you will find that the results are much more conclusive when taken by a doctor, but you can ask your GM for more information on home kits if you are interested in checking your own levels periodically.

Ultimately, you will want your ratio to be 3.5:1 or less, although sometimes a 5:1 can be alright, depending on your lifestyle, age, and other variables. A 5:1 ratio in men does, however, mean that you are at a higher risk for heart disease in the future, and that working on lowering this number is still in your best interest. In women, this would be a 4.4:1, as women have a higher risk of heart disease in general.

The Importance of the Ratio:

These numbers may seem meaningless on a chart but when you put the numbers to work in your body, you get an idea of just how important the LDL HDL cholesterol ratio measurements can be. In reality, the test gives you an indicator of possible risks for heart disease and offers a chance to resolve them.

Your doctor may refer you to a nutritionist or advise you to find a more regular physical workout routine. Cutting fats, particularly those in fried foods, and processed foods from your diet is a nice place to start, and getting more fiber can also help with heart health and balance, not to mention making digestion much smoother.

What you really want to avoid are the LDL or bad cholesterol, because as they accumulate in your bloodstream, they begin sticking to artery walls, turning into plaque and causing buildup and blockages. The HDL, or good cholesterols, work to gather up the LDL and send them back to the liver. This makes HDL cholesterol a kind of clean-up crew for your blood stream. With that said, you don't want your HDL levels to be too high either.