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What are Good Cholesterol Numbers?

Nicole Madison
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

Most people know that high cholesterol levels present real dangers to a person’s health. However, many people just aren’t sure of what counts as good cholesterol numbers. Learning some guideline numbers can help a person to have a realistic goal for which to aim.

The first thing to know about good cholesterol numbers is that they are expressed as different units of measurement in different countries. The United States uses milligrams as the standard for measuring cholesterol, and levels in the blood are expressed as milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). In Canada, millimoles per liter (mmol/L) are used in measuring cholesterol numbers, and the same goes for many parts of Europe.

In the United States, good cholesterol numbers for the average, healthy person are less than 200 mg per deciliter of blood. Once a person gets to 200 mg, he is considered to have borderline-high levels of cholesterol. Once levels reach 240 mg or more, the person is considered to have high cholesterol.

In Canada and many European countries, good cholesterol numbers are those under 5.2 mmol per liter of blood. In such places 5.2 mmol up to 6.2 mmol is considered borderline high. Once a person’s levels move above 6.2 mmol per liter of blood, his levels of cholesterol are considered high.

Sometimes cholesterol numbers are categorized by the type of cholesterol. High low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels are linked to clogged arteries and ultimately the increased risk of having a heart attack. On the other hand, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is often referred to as the good type of cholesterol, as it plays a role in keeping the arteries from getting clogged. In the United States, LDL levels of less than 70 mg are considered best for those at higher risk for developing heart disease, which corresponds to 1.8 mmol in Canada and many parts of Europe. An LDL level of 100 to 129 mg in the United States and 2.6 to 3.3 mmol is considered close to optimal levels for those at lower or average risk of developing heart disease.

Good cholesterol numbers for HDL cholesterol are considered 60 mg and above in the United States and more than 1.5 mmol in Canada and European countries. The range from 40 to 59 mg (1.3 to 1.5 mmol) may be considered acceptable for HDL numbers, depending on your gender and other risk factors for heart disease. Anything below 50 mg or 1.3 mmol is considered poor for women. Levels of HDL below 40 mg or 1 mmol are considered poor for men.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By Babalaas — On Jan 15, 2011

@ Alchemy and Crispety- You both make interesting points about the relationship between cholesterol and diet, exercise, and overall lifestyle. I would be interested to see an historical study that examined the prevalence of cholesterol from the forties and fifties compared to the post 80s technology boom. I would also be curious to know when it is that the body makes cholesterol. Does the liver produce more cholesterol when the body is in a rested metabolic state, or when it is slightly excited? Does anyone else have any thoughts on this subject?

By Alchemy — On Jan 14, 2011

@ Crispety- I was recently reading a study about the number of hours that a person spends watching television or sitting in front of a computer per day. According to the study, a person who spends more than four hours per day watching television or on a computer is twice as likely to die of heart disease.

The point of this is that there was a discussion about the findings and there were some ideas pointing to the idea of the body being at rest for such long periods of time being to blame. Sometimes diet and exercise are not the only way factors in metabolic related diseases. Since the technological revolution, people are much more sedentary in work and play than any other time in human history. For some people their body just cannot adjust to this.

I personally don't think there is any ailment that only a drug will fix. Most of these drugs were only created within the last twenty to fifty years, and people were able to treat many of these diseases well before then. These diseases have also been far less prevalent before the major changes in how people work and play. This is just my opinion, but sometimes people need to make bigger lifestyle changes than just diet and exercise to lower ldl cholesterol numbers.

By Crispety — On Nov 16, 2010

I just wanted to say that some people despite a healthy diet and daily excerise may still have bad cholesterol numbers.

The reason for this is that some people’s body actually makes cholesterol. High cholesterol can also be hereditary, so if this is the case, only medication can help lower the total cholesterol numbers.

A friend of mine had this happen to her. She lost thirty pounds, exercised daily and ate lots of salads and her cholesterol was the same as when she was overweight.

It is a good idea to get your cholesterol level numbers check to make sure they are in the normal range.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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