Good Cholesterol Levels

When it comes to good cholesterol levels, total cholesterol numbers can be misleading. Ideal levels of LDL ("bad" cholesterol) and HDL ("good" cholesterol) are the goal of most cholesterol treatment. For many people, ideal levels for LDL should be under 100 mg/dL, but this varies based on risk factors for heart disease. Good HDL levels should be above 40 mg/dL.

Things to Consider About Good Cholesterol Levels

When assessing your cholesterol, there are actually a few cholesterol figures to keep in mind. These cholesterol numbers include:
Triglyceride levels should also be taken into consideration. Although triglycerides are actually not cholesterol, they can be a factor in the development of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.

Good Total Cholesterol Levels

Ideally, total cholesterol levels should be under 200 mg/dL. Keep in mind, however, that total levels can be misleading. Total cholesterol levels can include low HDL levels and high LDL levels, both of which increase a person's risk for heart disease. This is why most cholesterol-lowering treatment decisions are based on HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, not total cholesterol.

Lowering "Bad" Cholesterol: Good Cholesterol Levels for LDL

In general, a good cholesterol level for LDL is under 100 mg/dL. But this is not the whole story. Healthy cholesterol levels for LDL also depend on the number of risk factors for heart disease a person has. For a person with no heart disease risk factors, his or her "good" LDL cholesterol level can actually be under 160 mg/dL. As risk factors increase, the healthy cholesterol level for LDL decreases. For a person who already has heart disease, diabetes, or a risk score higher than 20 percent, a good cholesterol level for LDL is under 100 mg/dL.
If You Have
You Are in Category
And Your LDL Goal Is
Heart disease, diabetes, or a risk score higher than 20%
I. Highest risk
Less than 100 mg/dL
Two or more risk factors and a risk score of 10–20%
II. Next highest risk
Less than 130 mg/dL
Two or more risk factors and a risk score lower than 10%
III. Moderate risk
Less than 130 mg/dL
One or no risk factors
IV. Low to moderate risk
Less than 160 mg/dL
(Click Heart Attack Risk or High Cholesterol Risk to learn more about your risk for having a heart attack.)
10 Foods That Lower Cholesterol


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