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What Should My Cholesterol Level Be?

A blood test is all you need to find out what your cholesterol level is.

Your doctor may recommend that you fast for 8 to 12 hours before that test in order to measure your triglycerides, LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol. Or you may start with a test that shows your total cholesterol level without fasting.

Your doctor may start with a non-fasting test and then recommend a lipid profile, based on your results.

Doctors recommend your cholesterol stay below 200 and triglycerides below 150. Here's the breakdown:


Total Cholesterol


Less than 200



Borderline High

240 and above



Lifestyle Changes Can Lower Cholesterol

Many of the same things that help your diabetes also help to lower your cholesterol and triglycerides and protect your heart.

Avoid saturated fat. Use monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in canola oil, olive oil, or liquid margarine, instead of saturated fats.

Quit smoking . Smoking lowers HDL (good) cholesterol levels. When you stop, they go back up.

Work on your weight. This helps bring down your “bad” cholesterol and higher triglycerides.

Exercise. Just 30 minutes of exercise every day can help boost your “good” cholesterol and improve diabetes, weight issues, and high blood pressure -- all risk factors for heart disease.

Do I Need Medication?

Sometimes making changes to your diet and getting more exercise aren't enough to bring your cholesterol down. You may also need to take a cholesterol-lowering drug. These include:

  • Statins
  • Fibrates
  • Nicotinic acid
  • Bile-acid resins
  • Ezetimibe
  • High-dose or prescription fish oil supplements [to lower trigylcerides]

Remember: These drugs work best when you also follow a low-cholesterol diet and are active.


WebMD Medical Reference