HDL Cholesterol: 70 mg/dL

What does an HDL level of 70 mean?

An HDL cholesterol level of 70 mg/dL is considered optimal. HDL levels in the 60-100 mg/dL range are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, so the higher, the better.

Factors that could contribute to an HDL level of 70

A variety of factors can affect HDL levels, including your diet, weight, and physical activity level. Your age, sex, race, and genetics also impact HDL levels.
  • Diet: Diets that are high fiber and low in added sugars and unhealthy fats promote higher HDL levels.
  • Weight. Being at a healthy weight promotes higher HDL levels.
  • Physical Activity. Exercising regularly can increase HDL cholesterol levels and lower LDL levels.
  • Age and Sex: Women tend to have higher HDL levels than men, though levels tend to decrease after menopause. 
  • Genetics (heredity): Genetics play a role in cholesterol production, which is why family members commonly have similar cholesterol levels.
  • Race. Blacks/African Americans are more likely to have higher HDL levels; however, other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes, may outweigh the health benefit of these higher levels [8].
  • Alcohol: Some evidence suggests moderate alcohol consumption may increase HDL levels [6]. For healthy adults, that’s no more than one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and two drinks a day for men aged 65 and younger [6].

How to maintain optimal HDL levels

An HDL level of 70 mg/dL is good for your overall health. If your LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels are in the normal range, having an HDL level of 70 mg/dL also puts you at lower risk for developing heart disease in the future.
Because “bad” cholesterol levels tend to increase with age, it’s best to put heart-healthy habits into place now. Here are some things you can do to help keep your “good” HDL cholesterol levels in the optimal range:  
  • Get 30-60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.
  • Fill up on fiber, particularly from beans and whole grains. Gradually increase your fiber intake to 30-40 g/day if you’re currently consuming less.
  • Avoid trans fats (like hydrogenated oils) and limit your saturated fat intake to < 10% of total calories.
  • Eat small, fatty fish, including salmon, sardines, and mackerel, at least twice a week.
  • Lose excess weight if you are overweight or obese.
  • Quit smoking if you currently smoke.
  • Manage stress and get adequate sleep as stress promotes inflammation that can lower HDL levels.


  1. Cholesterol Levels: What You Need to Know. (n.d.). U.S. National Library of Medicine | NIH. Retrieved September 9, 2021, from https://medlineplus.gov/cholesterollevelswhatyouneedtoknow.html
  2. Carotid Artery Disease. (n.d.). National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute | NIH. Retrieved September 9, 2021, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/carotid-artery-disease
  3. High cholesterol. (n.d.). NHS Inform. Retrieved September 9, 2021, from https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/blood-and-lymph/high-cholesterol
  4. Racette, S. B., Lin, X., Lefevre, M., Spearie, C. A., Most, M. M., Ma, L., & Ostlund, R. E., Jr (2010). Dose effects of dietary phytosterols on cholesterol metabolism: a controlled feeding study. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 91(1), 32–38. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2009.28070
  5. Cholesterol: Types, Tests, Treatments, Prevention. (2020, July 31). Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11920-cholesterol-numbers-what-do-they-mean
  6. HDL cholesterol: How to boost your “good” cholesterol. (2020, November 10). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/hdl-cholesterol/art-20046388
  7. HDL: The “Good” Cholesterol. (2019, April 18). National Institutes of Health. https://medlineplus.gov/hdlthegoodcholesterol.html
  8. Blood Cholesterol | NHLBI, NIH. (2021, January 4). National Institutes of Health. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/blood-cholesterol