Cholesterol Readings

What Do HDL Readings Measure?

High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol readings measure the "good" cholesterol in the blood. 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 reading is below 40 mg/dL, you are at a 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 HDL cholesterol reading for men is about 45 mg/dL; for women, it is about 55 mg/dL.

Understanding LDL Readings

Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol readings measure 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. The higher your LDL reading is, the greater your risk of heart disease.
LDL Cholesterol Level
LDL Cholesterol Category
Less than 100 mg/dL
100–129 mg/dL
Near optimal/above optimal
130–159 mg/dL
Borderline high
160–189 mg/dL
190 mg/dL and above
Very high
There's more to understanding your LDL 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


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