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What is a Normal Cholesterol Level?

What's "normal" or "average" depends on your age, your culture, and your genes. The "ideal" total (high and low density lipoproteins) blood cholesterol level is anything below 200 mg/dl, according to leading health organizations.

Total Cholesterol

Normal: below 200 mg/dl. High: above 240 mg/dl.

Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL)

Normal: below 130 mg/dl. High: above 160 mg/dl.

High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)

Normal: above 35 mg/dl. Best: above 60 mg/dl.


Normal: below 200 mg/dl. High: 400-999 mg/dl.

What is Bad cholesterol?

The risk for artery disease increases as total cholesterol and LDL levels rise. The higher your levels of these two, the higher your risk.

What is Good Cholesterol?

HDL is sometimes referred to as 'good cholesterol'. To guard against artery disease, your HDL level should be at least 25 percent of your total cholesterol.

Tips for Using Fat Wisely

  • Read food labels to know what you're getting. Some important things to look for are: calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Try to avoid foods with "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" vegetable oil.
  • Build your meals around fruits, vegetables, and grains. Fruits, vegetables and grains have little fat and no cholesterol. These foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Do not eat more than 6 ounces of meat, poultry, or fish a day. Try to keep serving sizes to 3 ounces.
  • Buy lean cuts of red meat. Some low-fat cuts are: pork loin, lean center-cut ham, and lamb flank.
  • Remove the skin and fat before cooking chicken.
  • Broil or bake fish instead of frying or sauteing it in butter or oil.
  • Don't fry foods. Bake, broil, steam, or saute with water or vegetable broth in a nonstick pan.
  • Eat low-fat or nonfat dairy products.
  • For salads, try an oil-free dressing or lemon juice. If you use oil, choose one high in monounsaturated fat, such as olive or canola.
  • Read the labels on frozen dinners to see how much fat they contain.
  • Avoid processed meats, fast foods, and packaged snacks.

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