If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Healthy total cholesterol is <200 mg/dL. Healthy LDL cholesterol is <100 mg/dL, although for people with no health issues <130 mg/dL is appropriate. Healthy HDL cholesterol is >40 mg/dL for men and >50 mg/dL for women. Healthy triglyceride levels are <150 mg/dL.
Cholesterol is a type of lipid molecule that travels through the blood. Cholesterol is important for several processes in the body and serves as the building block for cell membranes, hormones, and more. Total cholesterol levels are calculated based on LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in the body. While cholesterol is vital, having high LDL cholesterol is a risk factor for many diseases. Cholesterol can be deposited on the inside of the arteries, causing plaques to build up, which causes atherosclerosis. This puts an individual at higher risk for things like heart attack and stroke. Cholesterol can be lowered with diet, exercise, and a variety of cholesterol-lowering medications, such as statins.
What we mean by normal
In medicine, using the term “normal” can sometimes be off-putting. Saying something is “normal” implies that everything else is “abnormal.” Additionally, saying something is “normal” may not be accurate, since something that is “normal” for you may not be “normal” for somebody else. Therefore, instead of saying certain values are “normal,” alternative terminology may be to say that these values are “healthy” or “within the reference range.”
Additionally, some values have well-defined cutoffs, while others do not. For example, when looking at hemoglobin A1c levels, a value of 6.5 or greater is always diagnostic of diabetes. On the other hand, when looking at testosterone levels, some use cutoffs of 270–1,070 ng/dL while others use cutoffs of 300–1,000 ng/dL.
The information above represents values that are commonly used as cutoffs. However, depending on the specific source you’re looking at or the laboratory you go to, their values may be a little different.
Dr. Tzvi Doron is Board Certified in Family Medicine by the American Board of Family Medicine and is Ro's Chief Clinical Officer.