HDL cholesterol: How much is enough?

Research suggests that raising good cholesterol beyond a certain point doesn't offer any extra benefit for the heart.

Published: November, 2016

how much good cholesterol is enough
Image: designer491/Thinkstock

When it comes to cholesterol, it's mostly about the numbers. You want less of the "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and more of the "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) kind. This combination is often associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Sounds simple—and it is, for the most part. But while most attention is spent on driving down bad LDL, you still have to keep your eyes on the good HDL, as some research suggests that after a certain threshold, higher levels don't offer extra protection.

The role of cholesterol

Cholesterol gets a bad rap, but it plays an essential role in your health. Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the body that helps produce hormones, build tissues, and assist with bile production in the liver, which aids digestion.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

New subscriptions to Harvard Health Online are temporarily unavailable. Click the button below to learn about our other subscription offers.

Learn More »