Healthy number: 50 mg/dL or higher.
High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is the “good” cholesterol, so the higher your number, the better your health. “HDL cholesterol helps remove harmful LDL cholesterol from arteries,” says Goldberg. An HDL level lower than 50 mg/dL is a heart-disease risk factor for women, while a level of 60 mg/dL or higher helps protect you from heart disease. The best ways to raise your HDL are to quit smoking; exercise; eat monounsaturated fats (olive oil is one source) instead of saturated and trans fats; and avoid having more than one alcoholic drink a day. When HDL is low and LDL is seriously high, cholesterol-lowering drugs, like statins, as well as niacin supplements can help.
Have yours checked: See “Cholesterol.”