Healthy Cholesterol Levels
Any cholesterol level under 200 mg/dL is considered a healthy level of cholesterol; however, most cholesterol-lowering treatment decisions are based on HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, not total cholesterol. Generally, healthy levels for LDL would be under 100 mg/dL, but risk factors for heart disease can affect this. Healthy levels for HDL are above 40 mg/dL; the higher the numbers of HDL, the better.
When a person considers healthy levels of cholesterol, there are actually several cholesterol numbers that should be kept in mind. These cholesterol numbers include:
- Low density lipoprotein (LDL) -- commonly known as "bad cholesterol"
- High density lipoprotein (HDL) -- what's referred to as "good cholesterol"
- Total cholesterol.
Triglyceride levels also need to be considered. Although triglycerides are actually not a type of cholesterol, they can play a role in the development of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.
A healthy cholesterol level for total cholesterol is under 200 mg/dL. It's best to consider total cholesterol to be a good overview number, not the number that you use to decide whether or not you have healthy levels of cholesterol.
Remember, total cholesterol levels can be misleading. For example, a person can have a "healthy" total cholesterol level but have a low HDL level and high LDL level. Both low HDL levels and high LDL levels 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.