HDL cholesterol: High density lipoprotein cholesterol. Lipoproteins, which are combinations of fats (lipids) and proteins, are the form in which lipids are transported in the blood. HDLs transport cholesterol from the tissues of the body to the liver, so the cholesterol can be eliminated in the bile. HDL cholesterol is therefore considered the 'good' cholesterol: The higher the HDL cholesterol level, the lower the risk of coronary artery disease.The average man has an HDL cholesterol level of 40 to 50 mg/dL. In the average woman, HDL levels range from 50 to 60 mg/dL. An HDL cholesterol of 60 mg/dL or higher gives some protection against heart disease. Regular aerobic exercise, loss of excess weight (fat), and cessation of cigarette smoking increase HDL cholesterol levels. When lifestyle modifications are insufficient, medications can be used.
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Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016