Cholesterol can be complicated, let's break it down to understand it better.

Cholesterol can be a pretty complicated topic. What is the difference between LDL & HDL? What are triglycerides? What is a healthy cholesterol level? How can I keep my cholesterol in check and where its supposed to be so I can be the healthiest?

According to the American Heart Association, your numbers should be as follows:

Total Cholesterol (HDL + LDL + 20% of your triglyceride level. )

Less than 200 mg/dL

Desirable level that puts you at lower risk for coronary heart disease. A cholesterol level of 200 mg/dL or higher raises your risk.

200 to 239 mg/dL

Borderline high

240 mg/dL and above

High blood cholesterol. A person with this level has more than twice the risk of coronary heart disease as someone whose cholesterol is below 200 mg/dL.

HDL (Good) Cholesterol

Less than 40 mg/dL
(for men)
Less than 50 mg/dL
(for women)

Low HDL cholesterol. A major risk factor for heart disease.

60 mg/dL and above

High HDL cholesterol. An HDL of 60 mg/dL and above is considered protective against heart disease.

LDL (Bad) Cholesterol

Less than 100 mg/dL


100 to 129 mg/dL

Near or above optimal

130 to 159 mg/dL

Borderline high

160 to 189 mg/dL


190 mg/dL and above

Very high


Less than 100 mg/dL


Less than 150 mg/dL


150–199 mg/dL

Borderline high

200–499 mg/dL


500 mg/dL and above

Very high

High triglyceride levels come from different sources such as: being overweight/obese, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption and/or a diet very high in carbohydrates (60 percent or more of calories). You can fix this by changing your lifestyle. Keep your weight in check by eating a healthy diet rich in fruits & veggies and exercising regularly, avoid tobacco smoke and limit alcohol consumption. Also, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats should be used in place of saturated fats, added sugars should be limited, eat complex carbohydates and reduce fructose intake. These remedies also work well to raise your HDL cholesterol level. For more information, please contact the Wayne County YMCA at (570) 253-2083 or online at