A Comprehensive Guide on Ideal Cholesterol Levels

High cholesterol or hypercholesterolemia, is a popular medical condition commonly associated with heart disease but usually misunderstood. What is Cholesterol? It is the main sterol of the human organism. Sterols are type of natural fats present in the body. Cholesterol is found in our body as part of cell membranes, lipoproteins, bile acids and steroid hormones. The cholesterol in the body has two sources. It comes from diet and it is produced by the body itself. The liver is the main organ producer of cholesterol. But, other important organs are also involved in its production, such as the intestine, adrenal cortex, testes and ovaries. Cholesterol synthesis is partly regulated by the intake of dietary cholesterol. But, as the body can produce its own cholesterol, there is a possibility that people who do not consume excess cholesterol, have some genetic-metabolic disorder that leads to high cholesterol.

Hypercholesterolemia and heart disease

The body needs a certain amount of cholesterol to work properly. But too much cholesterol in the blood, combined with other fatty substances, and calcium components, will gradually form a plaque. The plaque can adhere to the walls of the arteries triggering atherosclerosis. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen and blood to the heart, brain and other body parts. As plaque builds up in an artery, it is gradually narrower and becomes blocked. The artery gets more and more narrow, thus less blood can pass. The artery can also become less elastic. This is called “hardening of the arteries”. Some plaques are fragile and can break or rupture. When this happens, blood clots are formed within the arteries. If the clot blocks an artery in its entirety, blood flow stops completely. This is what happens in most heart attacks and strokes.

How to test for high cholesterol

Medical professionals typically test cholesterol levels among the battery of medical check-ups. They do so because the levels of cholesterol in your blood may considerably have an impact on your heart and overall health. To evaluate your blood cholesterol, your physician is going to perform a blood test known as a lipid panel, as well as lipid profile. It is recommended to not eat or drink anything, apart from water, for approximately 9 hours before the exam. This will ensure correct evaluation results.

What are the healthy and bad cholesterol levels for men and women

A lipid test generally determines 4 distinct numbers: Total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides. Cholesterol being a fat, it is not soluble in water. So it cannot circulate freely in the blood. But, the fact is that nature has devised a way to make water soluble cholesterol, and transport it through the blood. This is by lipoproteins. The LDL or Low density lipoprotein and the HDL or high density lipoprotein are the 2 fundamental “cholesterol types”. The LDL is known to be negative (bad) when in excess. Therefore, minimizing it will be much better. HDL known to be the positive (good), is better when elevated. In addition, the lipid panel appraises the triglycerides (whole fat in a person’s body). They have an impact on the health in the same manners like cholesterol. At last, the total cholesterol (sum of HDL, LDL and 20 per cent of triglycerides) is integrated as well in the results.

Total cholesterol

Total Cholesterol = HDL Cholesterol + LDL Cholesterol + (0.2 x Triglycerides)

The total blood cholesterol, also known as serum cholesterol level, is scored depending on the danger of cardiovascular illness every cholesterol type triggers. In the United States, cholesterol levels are calculated in milligrams of cholesterol for each deciliter of blood. A result of under 200 mg per dL (5.2 mmol/L) is ideal. A level somewhere between 200 to 239 mg per dL (5.2 and 6.2 mmol/L) is within the edge line of high-risk class. In that case, your doctor might advise you to develop a preventing low cholesterol diet plan. More than 240 mg per dL (6.3 mmol/L) is the high-risk class. Here also, you will have to function on a therapy with the help of your doctor. Individuals in this group usually have doubly high-risk of cardiovascular illness when compared with people within the ideal class.

Compare your Total Cholesterol level with the table below:

Total CholesterolCategory
Below 200 mg/dLIdeal
From 200 to 239 mg/dLBorderline high
240 mg/dL and overHigh


Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol triggers unhealthy build up on the arterial blood vessels when very high. The outcome is a reduction of the circulation of blood, and an increased risk of cardiovascular illness and heart stroke. LDL levels are therefore the very best gauge of risk of cardiac arrest. A low LDL cholesterol is much better. Lower than 100 mg per dL (2.6 mmol/L) is the ideal. Between 100 and 129 mg per dL (2.6 and 3.3 mmol/L) is close to ideal, while between 130 and 159 mg per dL (3.4 and 4.1 mmol/L) is borderline elevated. Between 160 and 189 mg per dL (4.1 and 4.9 mmol/L) is elevated, and when more than 190 mg per dL (4.9 mmol/L), it is very high. When you are at high probability of having a cardiac arrest, a LDL cholesterol below 70 mg per dL (1.8 mmol/L) is highly advisable.

Compare your LDL level with the table below:

LDL CholesterolCategory
Below 100 mg/dLIdeal
From 100 to 129 mg/dLClose to ideal
From 130 to 159 mg/dLBorderline high
From 160 to 189 mg/dLHigh
190 mg/dL and overVery high


High density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol assists in maintaining arterial blood vessels clear. HDL helps take LDL cholesterol out of the arteries. Thus, it helps blood to circulate without restraint. Due to this advantage, a substantial quantity is much better when it comes to HDL levels. A score below 40 mg per dL (1 mmol/L) for men, and 50 mg per dL (1.3 mmol/L) for women is known to be low. This places you at threat of cardiovascular problems. A normal HDL cholesterol is in between 40 and 49 mg per dL (1 and 1.3 mmol/L) for men. As for women, it is between 50 and 59 mg per dL (1.3 and 1.5 mmol/L). When the level is higher than 60 mg per dL (1.6 mmol/L), it gives you some defense towards coronary heart illness.

Compare your HDL level with the table below:

HDL CholesterolCategory
Below 40 mg/dLLow (high heart disease risk)
From 40 to 59 mg/dLNormal but the higher the better
60 mg/dL and overBest (offers protection against heart disease)


Triglycerides are a type of fat that originates from what you eat. Every eaten calories not required by the body are transformed into triglycerides. After that, the body also deposits these in the form of fat. The levels of triglycerides are frequently elevated in individuals who are obese. This is also usually the same with people who have not enough physical exercise, and follow a diet plan extremely loaded with carbs. Smokers and heavy drinkers are also subjected. The ideal level of triglycerides is lower than 150 mg per dL (1.7 mmol/L). The borderline number is between 150 and 199 mg per dL (1.7 and 2.2 mmol/L). Starting from 200 to 499 mg per dL (2.3 and 5.6 mmol/L) is known high, and whatever over 500 mg per dL (5.7 mmol/L) is very elevated.

Compare your Triglycerides level with the table below:

Triglycerides LevelCategory
Below 150 mg/dLIdeal
From 150 to 199 mg/dLBorderline high
From 200 to 499 mg/dLHigh
500 mg/dL and overVery high

Cholesterol chart

cholesterol chart - total, HDL, LDL, triglyceridesIt would be more convenient for everybody to interpret their cholesterol test results, if only they could provide just one number as result. Unfortunately, there exist multiple cholesterol types, as well as various ideal numbers for each. Some cholesterol is considered good, while other cholesterol is considered bad. Consequently, their respective numbers have to stay over or under a particular level, based on the particular type. A chart of cholesterol levels enables you to completely grasp, besides the meaning of those multiple figures, the positive and the negative or unhealthy ranges.

The chart here displays all 4 cholesterol numbers: HDL, LDL, triglycerides and also total cholesterol. It also displays the good ranges, along with risk zones pertaining to each one. The ideal measurements for the total cholesterol is below 200. As for triglycerides, it is below 150. HDL should be 50 plus, under 35 is very risky. Finally LDL should be below 130. These numbers are in unit of mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter of blood) in USA. But, they can be in mmol/L (millimoles per liter) unit used in Europe, Canada and other countries. Along with these pointers, it typically shows that a total cholesterol above 240, and triglycerides more than 500 is high risk. The chart furthermore indicates the borderline between ideal and risky zones. Keep in mind that these figures are standards, and that the chart can be different based on the reference.

Progression chart

cholesterol progression chart

A cholesterol progression chart is one particular on which you can track your cholesterol scores as time goes by. We have provided a hassle-free one above that you can print to use whenever a health care professional looks at your cholesterol levels. This chart features all 4 cholesterol readings with their respective desirable levels. Next, it provides you fields to log the numbers pertaining to each cholesterol type covering 3 appointments. Preferably, your numbers get closer to the ideals at the next visit.