Cholesterol Home > Good Cholesterol

Why Is HDL the Good Cholesterol?

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the good lipoprotein, which is also the "good cholesterol." HDL cholesterol is "good cholesterol" because it picks up the extra cholesterol that was dropped off by the LDLs and brings it to your liver. This way, your liver can repackage it to use it later, or simply get rid of it. Because HDL cholesterol removes excess bad cholesterol (LDL), it is good to have high levels of HDL in your system, and low levels of LDL. Think of "H" for "high" to help you remember this about HDL. And "L" stands for low, which is a way to remember that you want low levels of LDL.

What Numbers Should I Be Looking For?

Because HDL helps remove cholesterol from the blood, it can help keep cholesterol from building up in the walls of the arteries (known as plaque). Plaque buildup can lead to a condition called atherosclerosis, which is a narrowing of the arteries. Narrowing of the arteries can lead to heart disease.
(Click Cholesterol and Heart Disease for more information.)
This explains why if your "good" cholesterol level is low (below 40 mg/dL), you are at substantially higher risk for heart disease. The higher your HDL cholesterol level, the better off you are.
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
(Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams [mg] of cholesterol per deciliter [dL] of blood.)
The average HDL cholesterol level for men is about 45 mg/dL; for women it is about 55 mg/dL.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
List of references (click here):
Other Articles in This eMedTV Presentation




Related Channels

eMedTV Links
Copyright © 2006-2020 Clinaero, Inc.

eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind. Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click Terms of Use for more information.

This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.