Most patients should aim for an LDL level below 130 milligrams per deciliter, advises Mayo Clinic. An HDL level at or above 60 milligrams per deciliter is considered best, but a level between 50 and 59 is okay in women, and between 40 and 49 is okay in men.
High LDL cholesterol levels are a risk factor for heart disease, explains Mayo Clinic. Although for most people, an LDL level below 130 milligrams per deciliter is considered ideal, those at a very high risk of heart disease due to family history, a previous heart attack or diabetes should aim for an LDL level below 100 milligrams per deciliter. LDL levels between 130 and 159 are considered borderline high, while those between 160 and 189 are considered high. LDL levels above 190 milligrams per deciliter are categorized as very high.
HDL, also known as good cholesterol, is protective against heart disease, making a high HDL level ideal, according to Mayo Clinic. HDL levels below 40 milligrams per deciliter are considered poor for men, and levels below 50 milligrams per deciliter are considered poor for women. Ways to increase HDL and lower LDL include quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising for at least 30 minutes per day and eating more soluble fiber from foods such as oats, beans and vegetables.