Normal Cholesterol Levels
While "normal" cholesterol levels vary, based on things such as risk factors for heart disease, certain ranges can be considered normal. In general, total cholesterol should be under 200 mg/dL, LDL should be under 100 mg/dL, and HDL should be over 40 mg/dL. Although not a form of cholesterol, triglycerides are often measured when testing to determine if a person has healthy cholesterol levels.
When defining "normal" cholesterol levels, there are actually a few different cholesterol numbers a person should keep in mind. These numbers include:
- Total cholesterol
- Low density lipoprotein (also known as LDL -- the "bad cholesterol")
- High density lipoprotein (also known as HDL -- the "good cholesterol").
Triglyceride levels are also important. Although triglycerides are actually not cholesterol, they can play a role in the development of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.
A normal total cholesterol level should be 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 an ideal cholesterol reading.
In fact, total cholesterol levels can be misleading. For example, a person can have a "normal" 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 treatment decisions are based on HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, not total cholesterol.