Normal Cholesterol With High Triglycerides — What is That?

Are you one of the 42 million Americans who suffer from high cholesterol? With healthy lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, and sometimes prescription medication, reducing cholesterol levels is within reach — but what if your triglycerides remain high?

Cholesterol: What's Normal?

When measuring total cholesterol levels, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and triglycerides are used in the measurement.

For adults, standard cholesterol levels are:

  • Less than 200 mg/dL is desirable
  • Between 200 - 239 mg/dL is considered borderline
  • Over 240 mg/dL is considered high

My Cholesterol is Normal, but My Triglycerides are High: Why Is That?

So both your HDL and LDL levels are where they should be, but your triglycerides are still high — why is that?

Triglycerides become elevated due to excess calories that do not get burned off, and in turned get stored in fat cells. “Statins are medications that primarily lower LDL cholesterol, but depending on the medication dose, can lower Triglycerides from 20 to 40 percent,” Sai Hanumanthu MD, with the TriHealth Heart Institute explains. 

There are steps you can take to lower your triglyceride levels while promoting good cardiovascular health, including:

  • Losing 5 to 10 pounds if overweight
  • Avoiding alcohol (even small or moderate amount of alcohol can significantly raise triglycerides)
  • Avoiding foods high in saturated fats (fried foods)
  • Limiting simple carbs that have high processed sugars (white bread, cakes, pastries). 
  • Participating in 30 minutes of exercise per day

“All these suggestions and routine follow up with a medical professional will lower you triglyceride level, even despite a low total cholesterol,” Dr. Hanumanthu says.

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Last Updated: August 07, 2014