A lipid profile is a common blood test that doctors use to monitor and screen for your risk of cardiovascular disease. The profile includes three measurements of your cholesterol levels and a measurement of your triglycerides.

In this article, you will learn about what is lipid panel test, the optimum lipid range, what affects cholesterol test, and how to bring down your lipids.

A lipid panel or profile – also called a complete cholesterol test – is a blood test that measures the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. It shows abnormalities in lipids, such as cholesterol and triglycerides.

The results of this test help determine your risk of the buildup of fatty deposits (plaques) in your arteries that can lead to narrowed or blocked arteries throughout your body (atherosclerosis). Moreover, the lipid panel also helps identify certain genetic diseases and determine approximate risks for cardiovascular disease, certain forms of pancreatitis, and other diseases.

This test has the following alternative names:

  • Lipid test
  • Lipid profile
  • Lipoprotein profile
  • Coronary risk panel

A lipid profile measures:

Typically, a lipid profile measures five different types of lipids from a blood sample, including:

LDL (low-density lipoprotein): Known as “bad” cholesterol, as it blocks blood vessels and increases the risk for heart disease.

HDL (high-density lipoprotein): Known as “good” cholesterol, it helps reduce the buildup of LDL in your blood vessels; therefore, it can prevent heart disease. The higher is HDL, the better.

Triglyceride: A type of fat that comes from the food we eat. Excess amounts of triglycerides in your blood are linked with cardiovascular disease and pancreatic inflammation.

Very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL): This type of cholesterol is typically present in very low amounts when the blood sample is a fasting sample because it mostly comes from the food you’ve recently eaten. An increase in this type of cholesterol in a fasting sample may be an indication of abnormal lipid metabolism.

Total cholesterol: This is your overall cholesterol level — the combination of LDL, HDL, Triglyceride, and other lipid components.

High LDL, low HDL, and high triglycerides are linked with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

With age, cholesterol levels tend to climb. Men are typically at a greater risk compared to women for higher cholesterol. However, a woman’s risk goes up after she enters menopause.

A doctor uses their levels to predict your future risk of cardiovascular disease, monitor how well your current treatment is working, or screen you for conditions that can affect your liver.

The healthy level range in a lipid panel depends on your gender and age. Continue reading to know more about the optimal range and what can influence your results.

Typical Optimum Cholesterol Levels in Adults

The American College of Cardiology Journal published the following guidelines on managing blood cholesterol in 2018. These are the acceptable, borderline, and high measurements for adults.

All values are in mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) and are based on fasting measurements.

Total cholesterolHDL cholesterolLDL cholesterolTriglycerides
GoodLess than 200 (but the lower, the better)The ideal is 60 or higher; 40 or higher for men and 50 or higher for women is acceptableLess than 100; below 70 if coronary artery disease is presentLess than 149; ideal is <100
Borderline to moderately elevated200–239n/a130–159150–199
High240 or higher60 or higher160 or higher; 190 is considered very high200 or higher; 500 is considered very high
Lown/aless than 40 for men and less than 50 for womenn/an/a


Cholesterol levels in men vs. women

In general, guidelines are similar for women and men over 20. However, they differ regarding HDL cholesterol, as seen above. Therefore, women should aim for greater levels of HDL cholesterol.

The guidelines have been developed for outlining healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels by analyzing the levels of these molecules and rates of cardiovascular disease in large groups of people.

In the United States, the standard unit of measurement for a lipid profile is usually milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). In most of the rest of the world, the standard unit of measure is millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

Researchers have found levels of cardiovascular disease are lowest when your lipid levels fall under the following values:

CategoryOptimal (mg/dL)
Total cholesterolUnder 200 Source
LDL cholesterolUnder 100 Source
TriglyceridesUnder 150 Source
HDL cholesterolOver 60 Source

If your lipid levels come slightly outside this range, your doctor may consider your lipid levels borderline. The optimal LDL cholesterol level for people with diabetes is under 70 mg/dL Source.

According to a 2020 research Source, healthy levels of lipids in people under 19 are:

CategoryAcceptable (mg/dL)
Total cholesterolUnder 170
LDL cholesterolUnder 110
Triglycerides (ages 0–9)Under 75
Triglycerides (ages 10–19)Under 90
HDL cholesterolOver 45

What might affect the results?

Whereas some lipid profile tests need fasting, meaning you shouldn’t drink or eat anything other than water before your test, others don’t. Your doctor will advise you whether you are required to fast and how long before your test you should stop eating and drinking anything except water. Not following your doctor’s instructions can result in inaccurate results.

Some medications can also influence the results, so you must tell your doctor about your current medications before your test.

Being under high stress or sick can also influence the results.

How To lower cholesterol levels?

Making certain lifestyle changes often helps lower cholesterol or triglyceride levels. Some ways you can reduce cholesterol levels include:

  • Maintain healthy weight
  • Avoid trans fats and decrease intake of saturated fats
  • Exercise regularly
  • Manage stress
  • Enhance intake of soluble fiber
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fish
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid smoking

A must-have Guide on “How To Manage Your Choletstrol” 

Next steps if cholesterol levels are still high

Lifestyle changes as stated above are recommended in case of mildly elevated cholesterol levels. Your doctor may recommend medications if your cholesterol levels are too high or the lifestyle changes aren’t enough to bring down your lipids. The most commonly used medications are

  • Statins
  • Resins
  • Fibrate
  • Niacin


A lipid panel is a test to measure levels of fats in your blood called cholesterol and triglycerides. The results of a lipid profile can help your doctor ascertain your risk of cardiovascular diseases, diagnose medical conditions, coronary disease, or monitor your treatment for high cholesterol or triglycerides.

If your triglyceride or cholesterol levels are high, your doctor can recommend ways to lower them down to an optimal range. Your doctor may advise lifestyle changes alone or a combination of medications and lifestyle changes.

About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He Renu Bakshi - Fitness Buffhqpassed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, the USA, obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me, age is just a number!”

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