Below is a collection of cholesterol definitions to help you understand commonly used language associated with cholesterol and a heart healthy lifestyle.
Arteriosclerosis - A group of diseases characterized by thickening and loss of elasticity of arterial walls. This may be due to an accumulation of fibrous tissue, fatty substances (lipids), and/or minerals.
Atherosclerosis - A type of arteriosclerosis in which the inner lay of the artery wall is made thick and irregular by deposits of fatty substance. These deposits (called plaques) project above the surface of the inner layer of the artery and thus decreased the diameter of the internal channel of the vessel.
Calorie Free - Fewer than 5 calories per serving.
Cholesterol - A fatlike substance found in the cell walls of all animals, including humans. Cholesterol is transported in the bloodstream. Some of it is manufactured by the body and some of it comes from the foods of animal origin that we eat.
Cholesterol Free - Fewer than 2 milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat.
Chylomicrons - A microscopic lipid particle common in the blood during fat digestion and assimilation.
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) - Also called coronary artery disease and ischemic heart disease. Heart ailments caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries and therefore a decrease blood supply to the heart.
Extra Lean - contains fewer than 5 grams of fat, less than 2 grams of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving and per 100 grams of meat, poultry, seafood or game meat.
Familial Hypercholesterolemia - A metabolic disorder that is caused by defective or absent receptors for LDLs on cell surfaces, that is marked by an increase in blood plasma LDLs and by an accumulation of LDLs in the body (as in connective tissue) resulting in xanthomas, atherosclerosis, and an increased risk of myocardial infarction and coronary heart disease, and that is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait.
Fat Free - Less than 0.5 gram of total fat per serving.
Fewer Calories - 25% fewer calories than the full fat product.
Heart Attack - An acute episode of heart disease (as myocardial infarction) due to insufficient blood supply to the heart muscle itself especially when caused by a coronary thrombosis or a coronary occlusion.
Hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol) - The presence of excess cholesterol in the blood.
Hypertension - High blood pressure.
HDL (high density lipoprotein) - Healthy cholesterol.
Lean - Fewer than 10 grams of fat overall, 4 grams or less of saturated fat, and no more than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving and per 100 grams of meat, poultry, seafood or game meat.
Less Fat - At least 25% less fat than the full fat product.
Light - One third fewer calories or one half the fat or less of the full fat version, or one half the sodium or less of the full salt version.
Lipoprotein - any of a large class of conjugated proteins composed of a complex of protein and lipid -- see HDL, LDL, and VLDL.
Liver - An organ in the upper abdomen that aids in digestion and removes waste products and worn-out cells from the blood. The liver is the largest solid organ in the body. The liver weighs about three and a half pounds (1.6 kilograms). It measures about 8 inches (20 cm) horizontally (across) and 6.5 inches (17 cm) vertically (down) and is 4.5 inches (12 cm) thick.
LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) - Bad cholesterol.
Lp(a) - Lipoprotein(a) cholesterol is a genetic variation of plasma LDL. Lp(a) is a significant risk factor for developing fatty deposits in arteries prematurely. The way an increased Lp(a) contributes to disease isn’t understood. The lesions in artery walls have substances that may interact with Lp(a) which leads to the fatty deposits build up.
Low Calorie - 40 or fewer calories per serving.
Low Cholesterol - The food contains less than 20 milligrams of cholesterol per serving.
Low Fat - 3 grams of total fat or fewer per serving.
Low Saturated Fat - The food contains 1 gram or less per serving.
Low Sodium - The product contains no more than 140 milligrams per serving.
Monocytes - A white blood cell that has a single nucleus and can ingest (take in) foreign material.
Plaque - A semi-hardened accumulation of substances from fluids that bathe an area. Examples include dental plaque and cholesterol plaque. Cholesterol is a key component in plaques on the inner walls of blood vessels and can lead to blood clot formation, heart attacks, and stroke. The risk of these problems can be reduced by maintaining normal blood cholesterol and sometimes requires medications.
Reduced Calories - 25% fewer calories than the full fat product.
Reduced Fat - At least 25% less fat than the full fat product.
Reduced Sodium - Sodium levels have been reduced by at least 75% from the original product.
Sodium Free - The product contains no more than 5 milligrams of sodium in each serving.
Sugar Free - indicates that there are fewer than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving.
Trans Fat - An unhealthy substance, also known as trans fatty acid, made through the chemical process of hydrogenation of oils. Trans fats are also found in abundance in "french fries." Trans fats wreak havoc with the body's ability to regulate cholesterol.
Triglyceride - The major form of fat. A triglyceride consists of three molecules of fatty acid combined with a molecule of the alcohol glycerol. Triglycerides serve as the backbone of many types of lipids (fats). Triglycerides come from the food we eat as well as from being produced by the body. Triglyceride levels are influenced by recent fat and alcohol intake, and should be measured after fasting for at least 12 hours.
Unsaturated Fat - A fat that is liquid at room temperature and comes from a plant such as olive, peanut, corn, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, or soybean. Unsaturated fats tend to lower the level of cholesterol in the blood.
Very Low Sodium - The product contains no more than 35 milligrams per serving.
VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein)
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This page was last updated on 02/03/12.