Health Facts: Understanding Cholesterol Levels

By Saila Sudha

Cholesterol is a soft, fatty substance found in your body’s cells.  Cholesterol is transported through the bloodstream.  Cholesterol is transported to and from the cells by special carriers called Lipoproteins.  There are several kinds of Lipoproteins But the most important ones are:

  1. Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) 
  2. High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)

Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL)

LDL is the major cholesterol carrier in the blood.  When cholesterol is carried by LDL it is called LDL – cholesterol.

LDL – cholesterol is called the “bad cholesterol” because when in excess it can leave cholesterol deposits in the artery.  The lower level of LDL is better for the heart.


Less than 130mg/dl                                    Desirable

130 to 159mg/dl                                         Borderline

160mg/dl and over                                     High

High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)

About one third to one-fourth of blood cholesterol is carried by HDL and is caused by HDL cholesterol.  It is believed that HDL cholesterol removes excess cholesterol from the tissues like arteries and carries it back to the liver.

HDL cholesterol is known as “good cholesterol” because it helps remove cholesterol from the blood, preventing it from piling up in the arteries.

The higher your HDL, the lower your risk of coronary heart disease.

Normal range of HDL  levels

Men        : 30 – 6-mg/dl

Women   : 40 – 7-mg/dl

This video by the American Heart Association helps break down the basic facts about cholesterol and what role it plays in the human body.