High cholesterol levels put men at risk for heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 10 percent of American men already have heart disease, which is their No. 1 killer. Knowing what your cholesterol levels should be and working to reduce your levels, if necessary, can reduce your risk.
A man should keep his total cholesterol levels below 200 mg/dL. Anything above 240 mg/dL is going to increase his risk of heart disease.
This type of "bad" cholesterol causes plague to build up in the arteries and increases the risk of heart disease, as well as heart attacks and strokes. Men should have levels lower than 100 mg/dL. Levels above 160 mg/dL are considered too high.
This type of "good" cholesterol can help prevent heart disease, so men want as much as possible. Men should strive for levels above 40 mg/dL. Above 60 mg/dL is considered ideal to reduce your health risks.
These fats can also contribute to your heart disease risk and are measured along with the rest of your cholesterol. For good health, a man should get his levels under 100 mg/dL if he already has had a heart attack or is at risk for heart disease. For other men, levels lower than 150 mg/dL are fine.
Improving the Numbers
Eating less saturated fat and increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids (found in some fish and many plants) in your diet can help reduce cholesterol. Oatmeal, some cereals and whole-wheat products might also be able to help. Quitting smoking and exercising can increase HDL levels and provide protection for your heart.