An ideal total cholesterol score is 180 milligrams per deciliter, according to the American Heart Association. While high levels of either HDL, or good cholesterol, or LDL, known as bad cholesterol, produce a high number of total cholesterol, only high LDL levels are a health concern, as reported by WebMD.
All individuals over 20 years of age need to have their cholesterol checked approximately every four to six years, recommends the American Heart Association. In order to improve cholesterol levels, a healthful and balanced diet limited in LDL and rich in HDL along with healthy lifestyle habits, such as regular exercise, are prescribed.
The factors that affect cholesterol in a negative way include being overweight, eating a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol, and being physically inactive, notes MedlinePlus. People should be physically active a minimum of 30 minutes each day if possible. Age, gender and hereditary can also affect cholesterol levels.