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December 22, 2014

Healthy Levels of Cholesterol and More

healthy levels of cholesterolHealthy Levels of Cholesterol

These are the generally acceptable healthy levels of cholesterol, trigylcerides and blood sugar. Healthy levels for total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar depend on other risk factor for heart disease.

Someone who has existing heart disease or cholesterol should strive for lower levels of total and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides than the person who does not have heart disease. Thus, healthy cholesterol levels vary from person to person.

However far more contributes to the risk of heart disease than cholesterol.

High Risk of Heart Disease

  • Previous heart attack or stroke
  • Carotid artery blockage
  • Arterial blockage in arms or legs (peripheral vascular disease)
  • Diabetes

Very High Risk (2 or more risk factors)

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • Male over age 45, or female over age 55
  • Elevated lipoprotein (a)

Serum glucose (blood sugar)

  • less than 100 mg/dl
  • levels less than 86 mg/dl are more optimal and associated with reversal of heart disease


  • less than 150 mg/dl
  • less than 100 mg/dl optimal

Total Cholesterol

  • Below 200 mg/dl                                normal
  • 200-239 mg/dl                                     borderline high
  • 240 mg/dl or higher                           high

LDL Cholesterol

  • Below 70 mg/dl                                ideal for very high risk individual
  • Below 100 mg/dl                              ideal for those with a risk factor for heart disease
  • 100-129 mg/dl                                    near ideal for those without risk factors
  • 130-159 mg/dl                                     borderline high
  • 160-189 mg/dl                                    high
  • 190 mg/dl or higher                         very high

HDL Cholesterol (gender specific – largely genetic)

  • Below 40 mg/dl for men                     poor
  • Below 50 mg/dl for women                poor
  • 40-49 mg/dl for men                            good
  • 50-59 mg/dl for women                       good
  • Above 60 mg/dl (for both)                 ideal

Triglyceride/HDL ratio may be best predictor of risk of heart disease and desirable is less than 2.0. We recommend you focus on that number.

Non-Pharmacologic Interventions 

The following interventions can help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol.

  • Quit smoking
  • Eat more fiber (fruits, vegetables, beans, and oatmeal
  • Lose weight
  • Exercise 30 minutes a day
  • Eat less fat and cholesterol from meat and dairy products
  • However, I think you’re better off avoiding sugars and white starchy carbs

Meat and dairy products tend to have higher amounts of saturated fats which is why this recommendation is usually made, but saturated fats are not as harmful as touted. By lowering foods with added sugars you will lower triglycerides as well as LDL.






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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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