Good Cholesterol

Good Cholesterol - HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein)

Cholesterol travels through your blood attached to a protein. This protein is known as a lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are either high density, low density, or very low density, depending on how much protein there is in relation to fat.


HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is sometimes called good cholesterol because it helps prevent cholesterol (a waxy, fatlike substance) from building up in the arteries. HDL, which is made mostly of protein and only a small amount of fat, helps clear LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or "bad" cholesterol from the body.


High levels of HDL cholesterol appear to help protect against heart disease. A person at risk for heart disease may be advised to raise his or her HDL cholesterol levels by eating a balanced diet, exercising and losing weight, and stopping tobacco use. In addition, medications may be used to raise HDL levels. Low HDL cholesterol increases the risk of coronary artery disease. High levels of HDL appear to help protect against atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, and other complications.


The cholesterol level can be checked with a blood test. Cholesterol is measured either in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) or in millimoles per liter of blood (mmol/L).


HDL (mg/dL)
HDL (mmol/L)
60 or above
less than 40
1.04 or below


  • An HDL level of 60 mg/dL and above (1.56 mmol/L) is considered optimal.
  • An HDL cholesterol level of less than 40 mg/dL (less than 1.04 mmol/L) is considered low.


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