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Healthy Cholesterol Ranges for HDL & LDL

author image Jay Schwartz
Jay Schwartz has had articles printed by the "Chicago Tribune," "USA Today" and many other publications since 1983. He's covered health, fitness, nutrition, business, real estate, government, features, sports and more. A Lafayette, Pa. college graduate, he's also written for several Fortune 500 corporate publications and produced business newsletters.
Healthy Cholesterol Ranges for HDL & LDL
Three young women exercising on the beach. Photo Credit: Kraig Scarbinsky/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Knowing the overall healthy HDL and LDL cholesterol ranges is important, but blood cholesterol levels change regularly. LDL cholesterol, which is also known as bad cholesterol, generally rises with age. Thus, the healthy bad cholesterol numbers for younger people are significantly lower because the risk charts figure their numbers will rise. Age has less of an effect on HDL cholesterol, which is also known as good cholesterol. Gender also affects your healthy cholesterol range.

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HDL and LDL cholesterol levels are important by themselves and because they affect your total blood cholesterol level. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol increases heart-disease risk because it takes cholesterol from your blood and carries it to the arteries that lead to your heart. This cholesterol becomes plaque that can prevent blood from reaching your heart. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, cholesterol, decreases heart-disease risk because it carries cholesterol from your arteries to your liver. This cholesterol is removed from your body via your gastrointestinal system.

HDL Averages

Females have fewer cholesterol and heart-disease problems because they have naturally higher HDL cholesterol than males throughout their lives and lower LDL cholesterol before menopause, according to Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the co-author of "Controlling Cholesterol the Natural Way." Females' average HDL cholesterol is 55 milligrams per deciliter, or mg/dL, from ages 5 through 39 and 60 mg/dL afterward, while males' average HDL cholesterol is 45 mg/dL from ages 15 through 44 and 50 mg/dL afterward, according to "The New 8-Week Cholesterol Cure."

LDL Averages

Males' average LDL cholesterol levels are higher than women's from the age of 25 through 55, according to "The Cholesterol Cure." The average LDL cholesterol for men is 115 mg/dL from age 25 through 29, 135 mg/dL from 35 to 39 and 145 mg/dL from age 45 to death. Women's average LDL cholesterol is 110 mg/dL from age 25 to 34, 120 mg/dL from 35 to 39, 130 mg/dL from age 45 to 49 and 150 mg/dL after age 55.

Healthy HDL Ranges

HDL is more "predictive of heart disease" than LDL, wrote the late Robert Kowalski in "The Cholesterol Cure." The National Cholesterol Education Program reports that an HDL of 60 mg/dL lowers heart-disease risk. "Controlling Cholesterol" reports that HDL ranges that give women "excellent protection" against heart disease are above 63 mg/dL if they're 20 to 39 years old, above 69 mg/dL if they're 40 to 59 and above 74 mg/dL afterward. Healthy HDL ranges for men are above 51 mg/dL if they're 20 to 39, above 52 mg/dL if they're 40 to 59 and above 60 mg/dL afterward.

Healthy LDL Ranges

The National Cholesterol Education Program reports that an LDL less than 100 mg/dL is "optimal" and a 100 to 129 mg/dL range is "near optimal." "Controlling Cholesterol" reports that women's healthy LDL ranges are 90 to 108 mg/dL if they're 20 to 39, 110 to 128 mg/dL if they're 40 to 59 and 126 to 149 mg/dL afterward. Men's healthy LDL ranges are 100 to 117 mg/dL if they're 20 to 39, 119 to 140 mg/dL if they're 40 to 59 and 122 to 143 mg/dL afterward.

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