What is non-HDL cholesterol?

Find out why knowing your non-HDL cholesterol may be even more important than knowing your LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Your non-HDL cholesterol is your total cholesterol minus your HDL (good) cholesterol. So if your total cholesterol is 190 and your HDL cholesterol is 40, your non-HDL cholesterol is 150. What's an optimal non-HDL number? Keep reading.

Non-HDL Cholesterol is a measure of your total bad cholesterol.

Non-HDL cholesterol tells you all the bad cholesterol circulating in your blood - not just your LDL cholesterol.

It is helpful to know your non-HDL cholesterol because your level of non-HDL may predict your risk of cardiovascular disease even better than your LDL (bad) cholesterol.  That’s because your non-HDL number tells you all the bad cholesterol circulating in your blood – not just your LDL cholesterol but your VLDL cholesterol levels as well.  Both LDL and VLDL particles are artery-clogging “bad” lipids.  When you subtract the “good” cholesterol (HDL) from your total cholesterol, you are left with all the “bad” cholesterol.

What are optimal non-HDL cholesterol levels?

States Dr. James Kenney, Nutrition Research Specialist at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa: “We recommend that non-HDL be no more than 120 for prevention and no more than 100 for regression, or reversal, of atherosclerotic lesions in those with established coronary artery disease or those at very high risk, such as diabetics or those with evidence of severely clogged arteries, including people who have had a heart attack or have angina or claudication (difficulty/pain in walking due to insufficient blood supply to the legs and feet).

Consistently, non-HDL levels improve, and rapidly so, among guests at the Pritikin Longevity Center, in large part because total cholesterol levels drop precipitously. On average, they fall 23% within three weeks. Research by scientists at UCLA has also found that two to three weeks at Pritikin leads to significant improvements in the quality of HDL particles, transforming them from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory in nature.

Lower Your Non-HDL Cholesterol Levels

Tired of relying on mega-doses of pills to lower your cholesterol? These 7 simple strategies can lower your cholesterol naturally.


Dr. Jay Kenney, PhD, RD, FACN

Nutritional Research Director and Educator

For nearly 30 years, Dr. Kenney has helped guests at Pritikin cut through the confusion and quack "truths" surrounding nutrition and weight loss. Personally, he loves living the Pritikin Program because "I'm in better health today, in my late 60s, than I was at age 35. And I weigh 40 pounds less than I did in college."

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