Cholesterol and Diabetes

  • Low density lipoproteins (LDL). Also referred to as “bad” cholesterol, can cause buildup of plaque on the walls of arteries. The more LDL there is in the blood, the greater the risk of heart disease.
  • High density lipoproteins (HDL). Also referred to as “good” cholesterol, helps the body rid itself of “bad” cholesterol in the blood. The higher the level of HDL cholesterol, the better. If your levels of HDL are low, your risk of heart disease increases.
  • Very low density lipoproteins (VLDL). This is similar to LDL cholesterol because it contains mostly fat and not much protein.
  • Triglycerides. Triglycerides are another type of fat that is carried in the blood by very low density lipoproteins. Excess calories, alcohol, or sugar in the body are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells.

People with diabetes should have their cholesterol checked at least once yearly and more often if they have high cholesterol or heart disease.

Your cholesterol results can be confusing because there are several different numbers and they are measured in milligrams per deciliter. (Who says America doesn’t use the metric system?).

In general, you want your total cholesterol number to be below 200, bad cholesterol (LDL) between 70 – 129 mg/dl, depending on your risk for heart disease. Good cholesterol levels (HDL) should be 50 mg/dl or higher.

The first number is your total cholesterol. This is the sum of all the types of cholesterol listed above.

Total Cholesterol

  • Below 200 mg/dl Desirable
  • 200 – 239 mg/dl Borderline High
  • 240 mg/dl and above High

LDL (Bad)

  • Below 70 mg/dl Target for people at very high risk of heart disease
  • Below 100 mg/dl Target for people at risk of heart disease
  • 100- 129 mg/dl Near ideal
  • 130 – 159 mg/dl Borderline high
  • 160 – 189 mg/dl High
  • 190 mg/dl and above Very high

HDL (Good)

  • Below 40 mg/dl (women)
  • Below 50 mg/dl (men) Poor
  • 50 – 59 mg/dl Acceptable
  • 60 mg/dl and above Best


  • Below 150 mg/dl Desirable
  • 150 – 199 mg/dl Borderline High
  • 200 – 499 mg/dl High
  • 500 mg/dl or higher Very High

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