Cholesterol is a waxy substance manufactured by the liver from saturated fat. You also consume dietary cholesterol when you eat fatty meats and dairy products. Though your body needs some cholesterol to function, excess amounts can stick to artery walls, leading to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Therefore, it’s important to monitor your cholesterol with regular testing. A desirable reading is below two hundred. Cholesterol levels between two hundred and two thirty-nine are considered borderline, while those two forty and above are classified as high. Just as important as the total reading, however, is the amount of ‘good,’ or HDL, cholesterol and ‘bad,’ or LDL, cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is said to be good, because it helps carry leftover cholesterol out of the body. This level should be at 35 milligrams per deciliter, or higher. LDL cholesterol is more likely to be deposited inside arteries; therefore, it’s described as bad. Your LDL level should be less than 130 milligrams. To improve your cholesterol profile, exercise regularly, eat less saturated fat, and increase your intake of whole grains, garlic, and beans. If levels remain high, a doctor may prescribe cholesterol-lowering medication. For more information, consult a health care professional.