Elevated levels of cholesterol are widely recognised as a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and people are encouraged to test and monitor their cholesterol levels to make sure that they are within normal ranges. But what exactly is the normal range for cholesterol levels?
There are two main types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is considered "bad" cholesterol, whereas HDL has beneficial properties and is sometimes called "good" cholesterol.
Normal LDL Levels
To have the lowest risk of heart disease, a person's LDL should ideally be below 100 mg/dl. Some doctors believe that LDL should be lower than 70 mg/dl for optimal heart health.
Normal HDL Levels
Levels of HDL should be between 35 and 60 mg/dl, but higher levels are not necessarily considered negative for health.
Overall Cholesterol Levels
In healthy individuals the combination of HDL and LDL should result in cholesterol levels of lower than 200 mg/dL.
People with high cholesterol can attempt to improve their cholesterol levels with diet or exercise, but doctors may recommend cholesterol-lowering medications for people with excessively high levels or for whom lifestyle modifications do not work.