Normal Cholesterol Levels by Age

Cholesterol Levels by Age: Normal, Borderline, and High
Age / gender classification Total cholesterol LDL HDL
Men 19 and younger normal Less than 170 mg / dl Less than 110 mg / dl More than 45 mg / dl (optimal)
border 170-199 mg / dl 110-129 mg / dl
High Greater than or equal to 200 mg / dl Greater than or equal to 130 mg / dl
Men from 20 normal 125-200 mg / dl Less than 100 mg / dl More than 40 mg / dl (optimal)
border 200-239 mg / dl 130-159 mg / dl
High greater than or equal to 239 mg / dl 160-189 mg / dl
Women 19 and younger normal Less than 170 mg / dl Less than 110 mg / dl More than 45 mg / dl (optimal)
border 170-199 mg / dl 110-129 mg / dl
High Greater than or equal to 200 mg / dl Greater than or equal to 130 mg / dl
Women from 20 normal 125-200 mg / dl Less than 100 mg / dl More than 50 mg / dl (optimal)
border 200-239 mg / dl 130-159 mg / dl
High greater than or equal to 239 mg / dl 160-189 mg / dl

How often should you get tested?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most healthy adults should have their cholesterol checked every four to six years.

Your risk factors will also determine how often your cholesterol should be checked. Adults with a history of high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, or obesity need more frequent measurements, as do all adults as they age.

Children should have their cholesterol checked at least once between the ages of 9 and 11 years and again between 17 and 20 years of age. If a child has a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, being overweight, or obese, their pediatrician may recommend getting checked earlier and more often.

What Influences Cholesterol Levels?

There are a wide variety of factors that can affect cholesterol levels. Some risk factors are in your control and some are not:

  • genetics: These factors include familial hypercholesterolemia and a family history of heart disease.
  • sex: Men often have higher LDL levels. After the menopause, a woman’s LDL levels can also rise.
  • weight: People who are overweight or obese are at increased risk of high cholesterol.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of physical activity can increase the risk of overweight and obesity and, in turn, increase cholesterol levels.
  • diet: Overall nutritional quality can have a negative impact on cholesterol, including consuming too many saturated and trans fats and too little fiber.
  • age: Your body’s ability to clear cholesterol can deteriorate as you get older.
  • Race and ethnicity: Rates of high cholesterol vary by race / ethnicity and gender, with the highest rates in males being Hispanic and the highest in females being found in non-Hispanic whites.
  • smoking: Smoking can increase your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol.
  • Other medical conditions: A history of high cholesterol, heart disease, or diabetes can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol.

Lower cholesterol

Children and adults benefit from regular exercise, a healthy weight and a balanced, high-fiber diet. Sedentary lifestyle has been linked to high cholesterol.

Lifestyle changes

Balanced, heart-healthy diet: Studies have shown that a plant-rich diet such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and death.

Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, the indigestible carbohydrates. Fiber acts like a sponge, attaching itself to cholesterol and helping the body excrete it.

Children and adults differ in the recommended number of fruits and vegetables that should be consumed daily. But in general, children ages 9 and up should eat around 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables a day.

This can be overwhelming for some children and parents alike, especially if your child is more picky about their food choices. The good news is, it’s never too late to eat well. Small changes can have a big impact. Start by adding a serving of fruit or vegetables to children’s meals each day.

Reduce your intake of saturated fats and trans fats: Saturated and trans fats are solid fats that, if consumed in excess, can raise cholesterol and contribute to the formation of plaques in the arteries. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults reduce saturated fat to less than 6% of total caloric intake.

For example, if you are on a 2,000 calorie diet, you should limit your saturated fat intake to around 13 grams per day. One tablespoon of butter contains about 7 grams of saturated fat, more than half the recommended daily allowance.

Foods high in saturated and trans fats include high fat meats, sausages such as bacon and sausage, meat skins, fried foods, high fat dairy products, butter, cream, baked goods, and fast foods. This does not mean that you can never eat these foods again. Rather, reducing your intake can have a huge impact on your cholesterol levels.

Children don’t need to count grams of saturated fat. Just reducing your fast food intake and making small changes can have a positive effect on your cholesterol level.

For example, buying low-fat milk, cutting red meat down to twice a week, and consuming more lean protein such as white meat (chicken, turkey, and fish) can help reduce saturated and trans fat intake.

Add healthy fats: Healthy fats like omega-3s (found in seeds like flax and chia) and oily fish like salmon can improve cholesterol by increasing your HDL levels. Consider eating fish twice a week and adding ground flax, nuts, or seeds to oatmeal, pancakes, or smoothies for fiber and healthy fat.

Use low-fat cooking methods: Low-fat cooking methods can also help lower cholesterol levels. You can do swaps, e.g. B. Use olive oil or avocado oil instead of butter. Try baking, broiling, steaming, poaching, or broiling more often and reduce the amount of roast. Include your children in the cooking process too.

Get more exercise and have fun: Physical activity is beneficial for overall health, including heart health. Physical activity has been linked to a healthier weight and an improvement in cholesterol levels. School-age children should have at least 60 minutes of exercise every day.

Preschool children are encouraged to exercise throughout the day, while adults should aim for a minimum of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity of 150 minutes per week and muscle training twice a week. This may seem overwhelming, but you can still take advantage of physical activity by exercising at 10-minute intervals.

The best way to start an exercise program is to find something that you enjoy. If you can, make it a family affair by going on a bike ride, walking, or participating in a family-friendly basketball, kickball, or tag game.

However, if you already have any health problems and do not exercise regularly, you should consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

stop smoking: Smoking affects your cholesterol by increasing LDL and decreasing HDL. The AHA recommends quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke to improve cholesterol levels.

lose weight: Too much weight in the abdomen can increase your risk of heart disease and is linked to increased LDL. Obesity has also been linked to low HDL. It has been shown that moderate weight loss of about 5-10% of body weight improves lipids.

Weight loss is usually not required for children within a normal weight range. In fact, depending on their age and health, most children benefit from maintaining their weight as they continue to grow.

Getting help for your child

If you are concerned about your child’s weight, consider consulting a registered dietitian or sharing your concerns with your pediatrician.

Children can benefit from getting involved in meal planning, shopping, and cooking, reducing their intake of sweetened beverages, and learning to eat more fruits and vegetables. Setting a good example and bringing the whole family on board is also important in making change and giving your child confidence.


If lifestyle changes alone don’t help lower your cholesterol, you may need medication. The decision to start medication also depends on your medical history, age, weight, and whether you have other risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure and diabetes.

There are many different types of cholesterol medication available. Your doctor will help you find the right fit.

In children, medication may be indicated if your child has inherited a genetic disorder called familial hypercholesterolemia. The Food and Drug Administration has approved certain statins from the age of 8, but talking to your doctors is warranted.


Cholesterol levels tend to rise with age, so the recommended ranges for your cholesterol level will depend on your age. In addition to age, many factors affect your cholesterol levels, including those over which you are in control. If lifestyle changes can’t keep your cholesterol levels at healthy levels, your doctor may recommend medication.

A word from Verywell

Keeping your cholesterol levels normal is important in preventing heart disease. If you’ve recently had cholesterol screening and your levels are high, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to move them into healthier areas. Make sure you write down any questions you have and speak to your doctor with your concerns.

frequently asked Questions

What Are Healthy Cholesterol Levels By Age?

Healthy cholesterol levels change with age because cholesterol levels naturally rise with age. Keeping your cholesterol levels at healthy levels from a young age can reduce the risk of heart disease later in life.

What is the normal range for cholesterol levels?

For most healthy adults (ages 19+), your total cholesterol should be below 200 mg / dL, your LDL below 100 mg / dL, and your HDL above 40 mg / dL. In children (up to 19 years of age) the total cholesterol should be below 170 mg / dl, the LDL below 110 mg / dl and the HDL above 45 mg / dl.

What lowers cholesterol quickly?

There is no quick fix to lowering cholesterol. But there are many ways you can naturally lower your cholesterol levels. Eating a high-fiber diet, reducing saturated fat, weight loss (if appropriate), exercising, and quitting smoking are just a few of the things that you can control yourself. When lifestyle interventions are unsuccessful, medication is always an option.

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