We’ve all been told how important it is to know our cholesterol level so that we can modify our behavior in order to keep it within the normal range. Doctors tell us that we should be screened at least once every five years if we are over the age of 20. This is usually done by means of a blood test called a lipid profile. This test will give us four different measurements, total cholesterol, low-density cholesterol, high-density cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Still all of that information is useless if you don’t know the normal range for cholesterol levels. In order to do that, you need to first understand a few things about interpreting the cholesterol numbers.

Numbers Are Not Enough

Once you get your test results back, your doctor will give you a set of numbers. But knowing your numbers is only the first step. The numbers may be able to tell you if your cholesterol is high or low but it is not enough for you to gauge your level of risk for heart problems or what you need to do in order to lower it. The numbers on your report are only part of the big picture, which includes other factors like your age, blood pressure, smoking status, and medications. Your doctor will take all of those factors into consideration to determine the level of risk to your heart health.

Your LDL Cholesterol

One of the first numbers your doctor will look at is your LDL cholesterol. LDL has significant dangers, as it can accumulate in the artery walls. In so doing, it will increase your chances of getting heart disease. When you look at your report the lower the number the better. LDL is considered the “bad” cholesterol so any number over 190 puts you in the danger zone. As you learn the normal range for cholesterol levels you’ll quickly realize that you’ll need to take precautions to lower your LDL as much as possible. This can be done through having a good diet, regular exercise, and in some cases, medication.

Your HDL Cholesterol

Your good cholesterol number will be the HDL. This is the type of cholesterol that actually works to protect your health. It works to remove the bad cholesterol from the blood so that it doesn’t have the chance to build up in your arteries. With HDL, the higher the level the better so anything above 60 would be considered a protective level against developing heart disease.


Triglyceride levels will vary depending on several factors like age and sex. A high triglyceride level can be a strong indication that you are at a high risk of having narrower arteries in the body. A triglyceride level above 150 could mean you are entering a danger zone for several health risks.

It helps to know the normal range for cholesterol levels in the body. Once you understand the levels and how they can affect your health, you’ll be able to look at your numbers to know when you are at risk. However, keep in mind that the real determination of your health risk relies heavily on several factors and not just the cholesterol numbers.