A person’s non-high-density lipoprotein (non-HDL) cholesterol level is the amount of potentially harmful cholesterol in their body. High non-HDL cholesterol levels can be an indicator of cardiovascular disease risk.
This article looks at what non-HDL cholesterol means, what cholesterol levels fall within the healthy range, and how to lower cholesterol levels that are too high.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that the liver produces. Lipoproteins are a type of protein that transports cholesterol around the body.
The body requires a certain amount of cholesterol to help cells function, but high levels of some types of cholesterol can
A doctor may assess different types of cholesterol:
- low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
- total cholesterol
- non-HDL cholesterol
HDL transports cholesterol to the liver, where the body breaks it down or disposes of it. People may refer to HDL as “good” cholesterol.
Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood. High levels can
Non-HDL cholesterol refers to all the types of cholesterol other than HDL cholesterol.
Higher levels of HDL cholesterol are beneficial for health, whereas the other types can increase the risk of CVD.
A non-HDL test reveals the combined total cholesterol levels in the blood, excluding HDL cholesterol.
From a blood sample, a doctor will take the HDL cholesterol measurement and subtract this from the total cholesterol level to find the non-HDL amount.
According to a 2017 article, non-HDL cholesterol levels may be a more important indicator of CVD risk than LDL cholesterol levels.
There is no set normal range for non-HDL cholesterol levels because test results need to account for individual factors such as:
- overall health and medical history
- family history, particularly any history of CVD
- lifestyles, such as smoking or other factors that can affect heart health
According to the
- LDL cholesterol: The level should be below 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl).
- HDL cholesterol: The ideal amount is 60 mg/dl or more.
- Triglycerides: Desirable levels are those below 150 mg/dl.
- Total cholesterol: Doctors consider levels below 200 mg/dl to be healthy.
According to the
Doctors will assess the person’s cholesterol levels alongside other possible risk factors.
A 2017 study involving 4,832 males looked at the link between non-HDL cholesterol levels and the risk of death from CVD.
At a 22-year follow-up, the researchers found that non-HDL levels of 190 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) or more had a significant link to CVD mortality.
If people have high non-HDL cholesterol levels, lifestyle changes and medications may help lower them.
As a result of this research, the
However, many foods that are high in cholesterol, such as meat, cheese, and butter, are also high in saturated fats, which may increase the risk of CVD. The exceptions are eggs and shrimp.
According to the
Researchers are still debating the effects of saturated fats on heart health. A
- whole grains
- fat-free or low fat dairy
- lean meat
Eating unsaturated fats and foods high in fiber may help control LDL and triglyceride levels and increase HDL levels. These foods include:
Regular physical activity can also help lower unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Adults can aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a day, while children and adolescents can aim for 60 minutes a day.
Other lifestyle changes that can help include:
- maintaining a moderate weight, as excess body fat can increase LDL levels and slow down the removal of LDL cholesterol from the body
- quitting smoking, if applicable, as it can damage blood vessels and increase the rate of plaque buildup in the arteries
- limiting alcohol intake, if applicable, as excess alcohol increases triglyceride levels
People with high non-HDL cholesterol levels may also require medications to lower their cholesterol. The options may include:
This section looks at the different types of cholesterol levels.
People may refer to HDL cholesterol as good cholesterol, as higher levels of HDL
People may refer to LDL cholesterol as bad cholesterol, as high levels of LDL increase the risk of CVD, and low levels are better for heart health.
LDL is fat in the blood that transports cholesterol around the body
Triglycerides are the
If people have high levels of triglycerides, they may also have high levels of LDL, low levels of HDL, and high total cholesterol.
A person’s total blood cholesterol is the sum of their HDL and LDL cholesterol levels together with
Non-HDL cholesterol refers to any cholesterol that is not HDL cholesterol. It may be harmful to health at high levels.
People can calculate their non-HDL cholesterol by subtracting their HDL cholesterol amount from their total cholesterol amount.
Non-HDL cholesterol is the cholesterol in the body that is not HDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol has protective effects against cardiovascular problems, such as heart disease and stroke.
High levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides can increase the risk of CVD.
A blood test, which doctors may refer to as a lipid profile, can show cholesterol levels. Subtracting the HDL cholesterol level from the total cholesterol level provides the non-HDL cholesterol level.