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What are the Ideal Cholesterol Levels?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Feb 03, 2024
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When it comes to understanding what is involved in a healthy level of cholesterol in the system, there are several factors to consider. Gender plays a role in calculating the ideal cholesterol level, as well as the specific readings for good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Here are some general guidelines that will help you know if you have a problem or if your cholesterol readings are within reason.

At one time, determining the ideal cholesterol level involved nothing more than taking a general reading. To a degree, that overall reading is still somewhat indicative of a healthy cholesterol level. If the reading is under 200 mg/dL, there is a good change you are well within a safe range and not likely to develop heart disease. However, it is a good idea to investigate the cholesterol level in more detail to determine if there is a healthy balance between good cholesterol and bad cholesterol.

HDL, or high density cholesterol, is the good type. An ideal cholesterol reading for men would be at least 40 mg/dL, while women should have a healthy reading of no less than 50 mg/dL. Many physicians prefer that both men and women have HDL levels that are in the 60 to 80 mg/dl range, coupled with low readings of bad cholesterol.

LDL, or low density cholesterol, is considered the bad type and is more likely to be the root cause of heart diseases, including heart attacks. The object with LDL cholesterol is to keep it as low as possible. An ideal cholesterol level for bad cholesterol would be less than 100 mg/dL, although up to 129 mg/dL is considered within a normal range.

Maintaining ideal cholesterol ratios means taking a few basic steps to improve the quality of your life. Cutting back of food products that are high in cholesterol is a start. Adding foods that contain Omega-3 fats will also help to lower bad cholesterol. Regular exercise not only helps lower bad cholesterol but can also aid in raising HDL levels that have fallen below the 40 mg/dL mark. For people who smoke, quitting will make a huge difference in LDL cholesterol levels and help bring the overall reading back into an acceptable range.

In some cases, more is needed to correct an imbalance in cholesterol levels. Physicians can use a blood test to determine the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol in the blood and decide on a course of treatment. Today, there are many medications on the market today that have proven very effective in increasing HDL (good cholesterol) levels while promoting a decrease in LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. When taken according to the instructions provided by a qualified physician, it is possible to alter the cholesterol ratio into a balance that is indicative of the ideal cholesterol level.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon329484 — On Apr 10, 2013

Cholesterol levels in rural populations such ad in areas of Africa and China are in the 120:130 range. To be heart attack proof, the total cholesterol needs to be under 150 without statin intervention. (LDL under 60 according to Jupiter study) For any chance to achieve this numbers through diet alone, all fats and oils must be eliminated. See Caldwell Esselstyn, Dean Ornish, Pritikin, John McDougall.

By Fiorite — On Jan 17, 2011

@ Babalaas- If you replace some of those saturated fats with olive oil you can lower your cholesterol significantly. Olive oil has a special mix of antioxidants that will lower your bad cholesterol while leaving your good cholesterol alone. There are also range juices that have added plant sterols and stanols that will help you reach the ideal cholesterol count.

By GlassAxe — On Jan 15, 2011

@ Babalaas- Things like oats, fatty fish, and bananas are good cholesterol lowering foods.

By Babalaas — On Jan 13, 2011

I had a blood cholesterol check a few months back, and my doctor said my levels were both elevated and too low. I hate the doctor’s office as it is, but after this experience, I thought I was in trouble and started to worry unnecessarily.

My test showed that my LDL was 131 and my HDL was 43. I did not know what a normal range was so this made me worry; now I do not feel too bad about my numbers. I think that an increase in vegetables, more exercise, and a decrease in cheeses and fatty meats will help.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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