Cholesterol Triglycerides Normal Levels

Hyperlipidemia is the general term applied to high blood cholesterol and/or elevated blood triglycerides. We now know that elevated triglycerides promote the deposition of cholesterol in the arteries, which results in atherosclerosis.

Monitoring HDL and LDL Levels 

Monitoring HDL and LDL LevelsTalk to your physician about regularly monitoring your level of HDL and LDL cholesterol. These levels can give your physician valuable information to help determine your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Normal Cholesterol Levels

Normal levels are not represented by a single number. They should ideally fall somewhere in a range of values considered “normal.” The following normal ranges have been established:

  • LDL: 100 mg/dL to 129 mg/dL
  • HDL: greater than 40 mg/dL
  • Total Cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides: 100 mg/dL to 150 mg/dL.

These ranges change with age. For instance, a 25-year-old with an LDL of 160 mg/dL is vastly different from a healthy 75-year-old whose LDL is above 160 mg/dL. The 25 year old would be at risk for cardiovascular disease, especially if a genetic predisposition exists.

Elevated triglycerides often accompany low levels of circulating HDL. HDL values below 35 mg/dL are considered a separate risk factor for heart disease. Increasing levels of HDL is key to reducing triglycerides and LDL.

Blood Triglyceride and Cholesterol Measurement

Guidelines published by both the American Heart Association and the National Cholesterol Education Program specify these measures:

Cholesterol Level Blood Concentration (mg/dL)
Desirable < 200
Borderline High 200 to 239
High > 240


LDL Cholesterol Level Blood Concentration (mg/dL)
Optimal < 100
Near Optimal/Above Optimal 100 to 129
Borderline High 130 to 159
High 160 to 189
Very High > 190


HDL Cholesterol Level Blood Concentration (mg/dL)
Low (Men) < 40
Low (Women) < 50
High > 60


Triglyceride Level Blood Concentration (mg/dL)
Ideal < 100
Normal 100 to 150
Borderline High 150 to 200
High 200 to 500
Very High 500 to 1000
Extreme > 1000

The general recommendation is that persons over the age of 20 should have their cholesterol measured once every 5 years. The best method of measuring cholesterol levels is with a blood test called a lipid panel or lipid profile. Because cholesterol and triglyceride levels rise after a meal — particularly one high in fat, sugars or alcohol — patients may be asked to fast twelve to fourteen hours prior to having blood drawn.

Concentrations of blood fats are determined by measuring levels of their carriers — HDL, LDL and VLDL — and ratios of carriers to one another. LDL has the capacity to transport more cholesterol than HDL and to deposit more in the arteries. Therefore, the greater the HDL/LDL ratio, the lower the potential for depositing cholesterol. Similarly, the larger the ratio of HDL to total cholesterol, the better. Minimizing blood VLDL (the primary transporter of triglycerides) levels is one way of reducing triglycerides.

Blood Lipoprotein Level Relative Blood Concentration and Type of Fat Risk of Heart and Cardiovascular Problems
High HDL Low cholesterol Reduced
High LDL High cholesterol Increased
High VLDL High triglycerides Increased


American Heart Association. (2004). Triglycerides.

Birtcher, K.K., Ballantyne, C.M. (2004). Measurement of cholesterol. Circulation (110), 296-297.

British Heart Foundation. (2001). Triglycerides and the heart.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (1997). Live healthier, live longer: Lowering cholesterol for the person with heart disease [NIH Publication No. 97-3805].