Interpreting your blood test results can sometimes feel like decoding a puzzle. This blog post aims to demystify the numbers that make up your Goode Health score, which is based on markers in four categories: heart health, BMI, metabolic health, and inflammation. We’ll also provide practical tips to help you improve your levels and enhance your health.
What is Total Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is essential for the body, but when present in excess, it has the potential to clog blood vessels, leading to heart attacks and strokes. Total Cholesterol is calculated by adding together your HDL + LDL + 20% of your triglycerides. It’s important to keep in mind that total cholesterol only tells part of the story. It’s possible to have a normal total cholesterol level, but unhealthy levels of LDL (too high) and HDL (too low). The less favorable LDL is capable of causing damage, while the beneficial HDL can help clear blood vessels. Elevated Total Cholesterol is usually due to increased LDL, but knowing the breakdown of LDL and HDL is essential.
Total Cholesterol Ranges:
Ideal: <200 mg/dL
Borderline High: 200-239 mg/dL
High: 240 mg/dL
How to Improve Total Cholesterol
To improve total cholesterol, eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins while limiting foods high in saturated and trans fats. Regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight also play a significant role in managing cholesterol levels. Since total cholesterol is calculated by adding together your LDL, HDL, and 20% of your triglycerides, your total cholesterol score will improve once you lower your LDL and triglycerides levels.
What is LDL?
LDL, or Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol, is the less healthy type of cholesterol. LDL particles transport and deposit cholesterol in your blood vessels, leading to the formation of plaques that can accumulate on vessel walls and block blood flow. This process, known as atherosclerosis, can trigger heart attacks, strokes, and vascular dementia.
Good: <100 mg/dL (<70 for people at risk for heart disease)
Berderline: 100-159 mg/dL
High: 160 mg/dL or higher
How to Improve LDL
To lower your LDL level, focus on improving your diet. Foods that are high in soluble fiber, such as beans, oats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can help lower your LDL level.
Foods that are high in saturated and trans fats can have negative effects on cholesterol levels and overall health. Think of these foods as an occasional treat rather than a weekly staple. It’s important to cut back on fried foods and other foods that are high in saturated fat such as butter, cheese, and red meat. We also recommend avoiding processed foods that contain trans fats and hydrogenated oils.
Here are some tips to help you choose healthier fats:
Choose leaner cuts of meat (round, chuck, sirloin, or tenderloin)
Opt for poultry, fish, or vegetarian protein sources more often.
Use cooking methods like baking, grilling, or roasting instead of frying.
Swap the butter for avocado oil or olive oil when cooking.
Increase your intake of unsaturated fats by eating more nuts, seeds, avocados, and fish.
What is HDL?
HDL, or High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol is the healthier type of cholesterol. HDL particles carry cholesterol deposits away from blood vessels, effectively reversing atherosclerosis and decreasing your risk of developing heart disease.
Ideal: >60 mg/dL
At risk (male): 40-59 mg/dL
At risk (female): 50-59 mg/dL
Dangerous (male): Under 40 mg/dL
Dangerous (female): Under 50 mg/dL
How to Improve HDL
Lifestyle changes that can help raise your HDL level include getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, and eating a diet with a variety of healthy fats like fish, avocado, and nuts.
What are Triglycerides?
Triglycerides are fats in the blood. Like cholesterol, some triglycerides are essential, but excessive amounts of triglycerides can deposit in blood vessels, contributing to atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Ideal: <150 mg/dL
Borderline High: 150-199 mg/dL
High: 200 mg/dL or higher
How to Improve Triglycerides
While triglycerides are fats in the blood, they are actually far more responsive to carbohydrates. Reducing your intake of starchy carbs and added sugars can significantly lower triglycerides. Lifestyle changes, such as managing stress, getting adequate sleep, exercising regularly, and losing weight can also help.
Here are some additional suggestions to help you cut back on sugar:
Stay hydrated: Sometimes sugar cravings are a sign of dehydration. When you don’t drink enough water, your body has a hard time maintaining stable blood sugar levels. This can cause you to feel weak and tired. Your body may crave sugar as a way to get a quick burst of energy. Drinking water can help you feel full and reduce your cravings.
Choose pasta made from lentils, beans, chickpeas, or whole wheat.Check the ingredients list for the words “100% whole” or “whole” before the name of the grain. (Example: 100% whole wheat). Beware of claims like “multigrain” which may not contain any whole grains at all.
Be mindful of the added sugars that can sneak into your diet through seemingly healthy snacks like granola bars and yogurt.
For a healthier alternative to starchy snacks and sweets, consider using 2 scoops of Goode Health blend everyday. Each scoop contains 15 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber to help you combat hunger and sugar cravings.
What is Body Mass Index (BMI)?
Body mass index (BMI) is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. BMI is an inexpensive and easy screening method for weight category—underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obesity. BMI can be a screening tool, but it does not diagnose excess body mass or health of an individual. In general, a person who has a high BMI is likely to have higher than average body mass and would be considered to be overweight or obese, but this may not apply to athletes with increased muscularity. To determine if BMI is a health risk, a healthcare provider may perform further assessments, such as skinfold thickness measurements and evaluations of diet, physical activity, and family history.
Healthy Weight: 18.5-24.9
Obese: 30 or higher
How to Improve BMI
To achieve a healthy BMI, focus on a balanced diet and regular physical activity. Avoid processed foods and sugary beverages, and instead choose whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Consistency in physical activity, including both cardio and strength training, is key. If you are trying to lose weight, we recommend replacing one of your meals with 2 scoops of Goode Health mixed with 16 oz of water. Our users have reported increased feelings of fullness and satiety when using 2 scoops of Goode Health daily.
What is Hemoglobin A1c?
HbA1c, or Hemoglobin A1c, represents your average blood sugar level over the previous three months. It works by measuring sugar particles located on your Red Blood Cells, which recycle approximately every 120 days. Elevated blood sugar levels can increase your risk of developing diabetes, dementia, kidney damage, and vision disturbances.
Hemoglobin A1c Ranges:
Normal: Below 5.7%
Diabetes: 6.5% or above
How to Improve Hemoglobin A1c
Managing your carbohydrate intake and controlling portion sizes can help lower your blood sugar levels. In addition, you become more sensitive to the hormone insulin, which lowers blood sugar, by having more muscle, through exercise, and less excess weight.
What is hs-CRP?
Hs-CRP, or high-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein, is a marker of inflammation. Inflammation damages many organs, and can raise your risk for heart disease, dementia, cancer, and many other diseases.
Low risk of cardiovascular disease: <1 mg/L
Average risk of cardiovascular diseaseL 1-3 mg/L
High risk of cardiovascular disease: >3 mg/L
How to Improve hs-CRP
To lower hs-CRP levels, focus on reducing inflammation by following a heart-healthy lifestyle. This includes eating a balanced diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking are vital. Managing stress and getting adequate sleep also play a role in reducing inflammation.