The desired level of HDL cholesterol in the blood is anything greater than 40 to 60 milligrams per deciliter, according to MedlinePlus. HDL, or good cholesterol, should be high to lower the risk of heart disease.
LDL, or bad cholesterol, should be low, because too much of it can block the arteries and lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, reports MedlinePlus. LDL levels are too high if they are above 190 milligrams per deciliter. The total cholesterol level should be between 180 and 200 milligrams per deciliter. A cholesterol screening test is recommended for men starting at age 35 and women starting at age 45. Anyone with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or a family history of heart disease should be tested earlier.
HDL cholesterol values may be increased through physical activity, weight loss, cessation of smoking and choosing healthier dietary fats. Though moderate alcohol use increases HDL cholesterol levels, this is not recommended as a means by which to increase HDL cholesterol levels.