High Blood Cholesterol
Diabetes Information Page

What Affects Cholesterol Levels?

A variety of things can affect cholesterol levels. These are things you can do something about:

Things you cannot do anything about also can affect cholesterol levels. These include:

A "lipoprotein profile" is a blood test done after a 9- to 12-hour fast and gives information about your:

Knowing your total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol can give you a general idea about your cholesterol levels. See how your cholesterol numbers compare to the tables below.

Lower your risk of developing heart disease by controlling your blood sugar, blood pressure, and weight; eating a heart-healthy diet; and getting more exercise. It's also important to get your "bad cholesterol" level below 100 mg/dL. There are 3 different types of cholesterol found in your body:

  1. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is known as the "bad cholesterol." Too much LDL-C can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Your doctor can help you determine your LDL-C target.
  2. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) is called the "good cholesterol" because it helps carry "bad cholesterol" away from other parts of the body and back to your liver, where it can be removed from your body. The recommended level for HDL-C is at least 40 mg/dL.
  3. Triglycerides are used to carry both the "good" and "bad" cholesterols throughout the body. People who are overweight and have diabetes are more likely to have high levels of triglycerides. Also, a diet high in fats and simple carbohydrates (such as sugar, white bread, and alcohol) can result in high triglyceride levels. A normal triglyceride level is considered to be less than 150 mg/dL.
Total Cholesterol
Less than 200 mg/dL
200-239 mg/dL
240 mg/dL and above
Level Category
Borderline high
LDL Cholesterol Level
Less than 100 mg/dL
100- 129 mg/dL
130-159 mg/dL
160-189 mg/dL
190 mg/dL and above
LDL Cholesterol Category
Near optimal/above optimal
Borderline high
Very high

Source: National Cholesterol Education Program, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH Publication No. 01-3290, May 2001

Last updated June 3, 2002