How high should cholesterol be? It seems like a simple enough question, but it can not be answered with a single number. There are two different types of lipoproteins in your body that determine your cholesterol levels, and where you want to keep the “bad” kind as low as possible, you may actually want to increase the levels of the other type.

High cholesterol has no symptoms, so there is no way to know what your cholesterol levels are without seeing a doctor and having a blood test taken. When your doctor gives you the results of this test, he or she will probably break it down into three categories: your overall cholesterol levels, your HDL levels, and your LDL levels.

The “Bad” LDL Cholesterol

LDL stands for “low-density lipoproteins,” and it is generally referred to as the bad kind of cholesterol. That is not to say that your body does not need this type of cholesterol. In fact, your body could not function without it. If there is too much of it in your blood, however, it will clog up your arms, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

So how high should cholesterol be as far as LDL levels are concerned? The desirable level for LDL cholesterol is considered to be below 129 mg / dL. Anything above 160 mg / dL is too high, and anything above 190 mg / dL is extremely high. If your LDL cholesterol levels are above 130 mg / dL, and especially if they are above 160 mg / dL, you will want to consider making dietary changes to cut down on the amount of cholesterol and saturated fats you consume.

The “Good” HDL Cholesterol

HDL stands for “high density lipoproteins,” and it is considered to be the “good” type of cholesterol. It picks up the LDL cholesterol that is not being used by the body and delivers it to the liver for repackaging. Your levels of HDL cholesterol should be 60 mg / dL and above.

If your HDL levels are below 40 mg / dL, they are considered to be too low. One way you can increase them is to eat more fish and unsaturated fats. If you do not have enough HDL, your excess LDL will not be taken out of your bloodstream and will cause your total cholesterol levels to be too high, so it is important you maintain HDL at its proper level.

Total Cholesterol Levels

When most people ask, “How high should cholesterol be?” they are thinking of their total combined cholesterol level. This should be less than 200 mg / dL to be considered desirable, and anything over 240 mg / dL is considered high. What is really important, however, is what the ratio of HDL cholesterol to total cholesterol is. For women, this should be about 1: 4, and for men it should be no lower than 1: 4..

If you are wondering, “How high should cholesterol be?” make sure you take both HDL and LDL levels into consideration. If your overall levels are too high, you need to raise HDL levels and lower LDL, either through dietary changes, exercise, supplements, or prescription medication. See your doctor for more information.