Target cholesterol levels for diabetics, as set by the American Diabetes Association, are a reading of less than 100 milligrams per deciliter for LDL levels, and a total triglycerides count of 150 milligrams. Ideally, HDL levels are greater than 40 milligrams for women and greater than 50 for men.
Diabetics have a high risk of cardiovascular disease, and therefore the desirable levels of cholesterol are the same as for those with established coronary heart disease risks, states the American Diabetes Association. It is particularly important for those who are diabetic or prediabetic to pay attention to cholesterol levels. This is because one of the effects of insulin resistance, a key factor of diabetes, is to lower "good" HDL cholesterol HDL and raise "bad" LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Diabetic dyslipidemia is the double-whammy condition of diabetes and high, artery-clogging lipid levels. Statins are drugs often administered to people with diabetes and high levels of cholesterol.
A few lifestyle changes can make a significant impact in lowering cholesterol to recommended levels for diabetics, explains the American Diabetes Association. Diet, exercise and quitting smoking are the key to success. Avoiding red meat, full-fat dairy, fast food, and processed food is essential. Cooking at home is the best strategy, as it gives one full control over the ingredients and technique. Diabetics should use only monounsaturated vegetable oils for cooking and look for the label "heart healthy" in purchased foods and on recipes.