To help minimize your risk for cholesterol buildup, the target ranges for cholesterol are:
- 100 mg/dL for LDL cholesterol
- 60 mg/dL or greater for HDL cholesterol
- 200 mg/dL or less for total cholesterol (including HDL and LDL cholesterols)
You will also see triglyceride levels on your lipid profile. Triglycerides are a type of fat that can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease when combined with high LDL or low HDL levels, says Buttles. The optimal triglyceride level is below 150 mg/dL.
If your cholesterol levels are not within range, there are ways to change them, Buttles says.
“Exercise is the best way to try to increase HDL, and a diet low in saturated fat is best for decreasing LDL,” she says.
A diet that’s low in saturated fat should include meats like chicken and fish while avoiding red meats, trans fats and minimizing high-fat and high-sugar foods.
Buttles also recommends fish oil supplements for improving cholesterol levels.