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.
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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.