What are Normal Cholesterol Levels?

If you’ve just received the results of your cholesterol test, you’ll probably want to know what is normal cholesterol level and how you measure up. However, explaining what a ‘normal cholesterol level’ is isn’t straight forward: what is average or ‘normal’ may not match up to NHS recommendations, and the average cholesterol level for people in the UK also varies for different people according to gender, age, and other factors out of your control. When you get your cholesterol test results, your GP will explain them to you and offer advice on whether you need to take action.

So, ‘normal cholesterol levels’ aside, what is the average cholesterol level in the UK – and if you’re interested in lowering cholesterol and keeping it at the recommended level, what are the figures you should be aiming for?

Recommended normal cholesterol levels in the UK

NHS guidelines recommend that total cholesterol levels should be:

  • 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults;
  • 4mmol/L or less for those at high risk.

And of this total, what is a normal cholesterol level when it comes to LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol) guidelines?

  • 3mmol/L or less for healthy adults
  • 2mmol/L or less for those at high risk

It is recommended that you have 1mmol/L of HDL-cholesterol (“good cholesterol”) in your blood.

UK cholesterol averages

According to NHS figures for the UK in 2011, around half of all people over the age of 18 have a total cholesterol level above the recommended level of 5mmol/L. On average, men in England have a cholesterol level of 5mmol/L and women have a level of 5.1mmol/L.

If you’re wondering about how common elevated cholesterol is for someone in your age group or of your gender in the UK, figures from a 2008 study by the British Heart Foundation revealed that:

  • In the 35 - 44 age group, 74% of men and 56% of women had high cholesterol.
  • In the 45 - 54 age group, 76% of both men and of women had high cholesterol.
  • In the 55 - 64 age group, high cholesterol was prevalent in 70% of men and 83% of women.

What if my cholesterol level is above the recommended level?

There’s a lot that you can do with the information you receive when it comes to your cholesterol test results. We’ve put together a guide to the causes of elevated cholesterol here. Many of these are beyond your control, but there are some steps you can take to help lower cholesterol through small changes to your diet and lifestyle – ProActiv’s 21 day cholesterol-lowering plan can show you what a difference you can make in a small space of time. You can also consult your GP or healthcare professional for advice.

If, as a result of your results, friends and family start to ask you “What is normal, cholesterol-wise?” or “What are normal cholesterol levels?” please don’t keep the information to yourself! Encourage close family members to take a cholesterol test and help to spread awareness amongst your friends.

There are also many community and charity initiatives to increase recognition of the importance of cholesterol and heart health in general. Why not sign up for a sponsored run? It’s a great way to raise money for charity and raise awareness.