The ideal levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) have changed over the years. Today the published recommendations are as follows:
LDL Cholesterol Levels
- 100 to 129 mg/dL Near or Above Optimal
- 130 to 159 mg/dL Borderline High
- 160 to 189 mg/dL High
- 190 mg/dL and above Very High
If your risk factors are high or if you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, your target levels are a bit different:
- Less than 70 mg/dL = Optional goal if you’re at very high risk of a heart attack or death from heart attack.
- Less than 100 mg/dL = Optimal for people with heart disease or diabetes.
If you want to lower your LDL cholesterol or raise your HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), the same advice applies:
Whole, plant-based, unprocessed foods high in fiber and antioxidants and low in saturated and trans fats will help raise your HDL and lower your LDL. But not all fats are bad – omega 3 fatty acids, which are commonly found in fish, nuts, seeds, olive oils and avocados – help improve cholesterol and heart health in general. Adding phytosterols to your diet can lower your LDL an additional 10-15%.
Doing at least a half hour per day is the goal, but ANY activity is good. Eating responsibly, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight will result in a better cholesterol profile and a healthier heart.