Cholesterol Levels

HDL Cholesterol

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the "good" cholesterol. HDLs carry cholesterol in the blood from other parts of the body back to the liver, which leads to its removal from the body. So HDL helps keep cholesterol from building up in the walls of the arteries. If your HDL cholesterol level is below 40 mg/dL, you are at substantially higher risk for heart disease. The higher your HDL cholesterol level, the better.
 
HDL Cholesterol Level
HDL Cholesterol Category
Less than 40 mg/dL
A major risk factor for heart disease
40-59 mg/dL
The higher, the better
60 mg/dL and above
Considered protective against heart disease
 
The average level of HDL cholesterol for men is about 45 mg/dL; for women, it is about 55 mg/dL.
 

LDL Cholesterol

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the "bad" cholesterol. LDLs carry most of the cholesterol in the blood, and the cholesterol from LDL is the main source of damaging buildup and blockage in the arteries. Thus, the more LDL you have in your blood, the greater your risk of heart disease.
 
LDL Cholesterol Level
LDL Cholesterol Category
Less than 100 mg/dL
Optimal
100-129 mg/dL
Near optimal/above optimal
130-159 mg/dL
Borderline high
160-189 mg/dL
High
190 mg/dL and above
Very high
 
This is not the complete story regarding LDL cholesterol. Your risk for a heart attack or stroke depends on many different factors, not just your cholesterol levels. In the past, a doctor would calculate your goal LDL level based on your risk factors. Now, we no longer focus on LDL goals, and your risk factors help determine if you should be on cholesterol medication and what dosage should be used. 
 
(Click Heart Attack Risk or High Cholesterol Risk to determine your risk for having a heart attack.)
 
10 Foods That Lower Cholesterol

Cholesterol Information

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