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What are good and bad cholesterol levels?

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Quick Answer

HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, cholesterol is considered good, and LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, cholesterol, which carries mostly fat and little protein, is bad, according to Everyday Health. HDL cholesterol protects the blood vessels' inner walls and removes LDL cholesterol, decreasing heart disease risk, says WebMD.

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Full Answer

A good level of total cholesterol, both HDL and LDL, is less than 200 milligrams per deciliter, whereas 240 milligrams per deciliter is too high, states Everyday Health. Good cholesterol should be high. An HDL level over 60 milligrams per deciliter is exceptional and reduces coronary artery disease risk even if total cholesterol is high, while HDL under 40 milligrams per deciliter is low and can lead to coronary artery disease. Bad cholesterol should be low. An LDL level under 100 milligrams per deciliter is best, and LDL over 190 milligrams per deciliter is dangerously high.

Good cholesterol can be increased by exercising, quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight, explains WebMD. Foods that help lower bad cholesterol include oatmeal, fish, nuts, olive oil and foods that have been fortified with plant sterols or stanols, which help block the body from absorbing cholesterol. Foods that increase levels of bad cholesterol include those with saturated fat such as meat, 100 percent fat dairy products and oils, reports Mayo Clinic.

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