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Cholesterol has an important role to play in the functioning of the human body. It helps in cell formation, in producing hormones and regulating vitamin levels, and insulating the nerve fibers. However, as the old saying goes, anything in excess is always unhealthy, and so is the case with cholesterol. When cholesterol levels in the body go higher than the normal range, the chances of developing cardiovascular diseases increase phenomenally. This is because the excess cholesterol tends to collect in the fat cells in the blood, which then tend to collect around the walls of the arteries. This reduces the optimal blood flow to the heart, and as cholesterol levels increase, so does the risk of heart conditions. As such, to keep these levels in control, you may refer to this chart that explains the optimal levels of cholesterol in the body.

How Cholesterol Levels are Determined

Cholesterol levels are determined by means of a blood test where you are asked to fast for a few hours before the blood test. The results are depicted by means of mg/dL or milligrams per deciliter. A lot of factors can cause high cholesterol. For instance, the consumption of food rich in fats, an inactive lifestyle, family history of high cholesterol levels, blood pressure levels, your age, and your habits such as smoking, all determine how you are going to be affected. After going through the chart mentioned below, it is essential that you only consult your doctor and understand the risks you may be susceptible to. Do not take any measures without speaking to your doctor.

Total Cholesterol Levels
Total cholesterol consists of HDL (High-density Lipoprotein), LDL (Low-density Lipoprotein) and VLDL (Very Low-density Lipoprotein).

Cholesterol Range Risk Remarks
Less Than 200 Normal Low risk of coronary heart disease
200-239 Borderline High Possibility of development of heart disease
240 and Above High Double the risk of coronary heart disease than those in the normal range

LDL Cholesterol Levels
LDL cholesterol is what is known as the bad cholesterol in the body. It is what gets lodged in the artery walls, and at higher levels increase the chances of heart disease. LDL forms from VLDL in the body.

Cholesterol Range Classification
Less Than 100 Excellent
100-129 Good
130-159 Borderline High
160-189 High
190 and Above Very High

Decreasing LDL is possible by adopting healthy eating habits and adhering to a regular exercise routine. Of course, appropriate medication along with these changes will help significantly reduce LDL levels.

HDL Cholesterol Levels
HDL cholesterol is what is known as the good or the healthy cholesterol. It reduces the formation of LDL and prevents it from affecting the arteries and the heart. The HDL cholesterol levels for men are slightly different from those for women. These classifications have been provided here.

Cholesterol Range Risk Level Remarks
60 and Above Good Protective against coronary heart disease
Less than 50 (for women) High Risk Possibility of development of heart disease
Less than 40 High Risk Possibility of development of heart disease

You can raise HDL simply by making an effort to reduce your LDL cholesterol levels. Adopting a healthy diet is one of the most important steps that you need to take to raise HDL.

Triglyceride Levels
Triglycerides are formed in the body by excess sugar and alcohol. These are stored in fat cells all over the body. The aforementioned factors that are responsible for high cholesterol also contribute to the formation of excess triglycerides. If these are high, chances of heart disease increase dramatically.

Triglycerides Range Risk
Less Than 150 Normal
150-199 Borderline High
Above 200 High

If you have found yourself to be at a higher risk due to the figures your test reports represent, then it is essential that you adhere to a low cholesterol diet to reduce such a risk. Furthermore, getting a good amount of exercise is imperative. Even if it is a daily walk for about 30-45 minutes, combined with your diet, it can go a long way in reducing the risk of such conditions. Finally, as mentioned earlier, in spite of the cholesterol level chart presented here along with some methods to reduce high levels of cholesterol, do not resort to any diet or methods to do so, natural or otherwise, without consulting your doctor. Everybody is different, and what is suitable for one person may not be suitable for the other.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the diagnosis and treatment of a medical expert.