Non-HDL cholesterol is your total cholesterol minus your HDL "good cholesterol." Here's the formula: Non-HDL Cholesterol = Total Cholesterol – HDL Cholesterol. So if your total cholesterol is 190 and your HDL cholesterol is 40, your non-HDL cholesterol is 150.
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.
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 results in significant improvements in the quality of HDL particles, transforming them from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory in nature.