If you’ve just received the results of your cholesterol test, you’ll probably want to know what is a normal cholesterol level and how you measure up. When you get your cholesterol test results, your GP will explain them to you and offer advice on whether you need to take action. However, sometimes you’ll come away with more questions that you want answers to.
Recommended normal cholesterol levels in the UK
The average cholesterol level for people in the UK varies according to gender, age, and other factors out of your control. But, if you’re interested in lowering cholesterol and keeping it at healthy levels, what are the figures you should be aiming for?
The NHS as a general guide recommends that total cholesterol levels should be 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults, and 4mmol/L or less for those at high risk of heart and circulatory diseases. As a guide, levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol should be at least 1mmol/L and levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol should be below 3mmol/L for healthy adults, and 2mmol/L or less for those at high risk.
Your doctor may talk to you about your level of ‘non-HDL’ cholesterol. This is now sometimes used as a measurement instead of LDL, and includes your LDL cholesterol and other forms of ‘bad’ cholesterol.
UK cholesterol average
In 2011, health survey data suggested that average cholesterol levels in the UK were 5.1mmol/L in men and 5.2mmol/L in women.
If you’re wondering about how common elevated cholesterol is for someone in your age group or of your gender, the 2017 Health Survey for England has reported on adults (including those taking lipid lowering medication) with high total cholesterol (greater than or equal to 5mmol/L) as follows:
- In the 35 – 44 age group, 63% of men and 40% of women had high cholesterol.
- In the 45 – 54 age group, 63% of men and 69% of women had high cholesterol.
- In the 55 – 64 age group, high cholesterol was prevalent in 58% of men and 76% of women.
What if my cholesterol level is above the recommended level?
There’s a lot that you can do with the information you receive when it comes to your cholesterol test results. In the first instance you should consult your GP or healthcare professional for advice. But to help give you more information that you might find of interest, we’ve put together a guide to the causes of elevated cholesterol here.
Many of these are beyond our control, but there are some steps you can take to help lower cholesterol through small changes to your diet and lifestyle. Why not try Flora ProActiv? The plant sterols in Flora ProActiv can help lower cholesterol within 2-3 weeks. There are other useful tips in Flora ProActiv’s 21 day cholesterol-lowering plan! *
If, as a result of finding out about your cholesterol levels, friends and family start to ask you “What is normal, cholesterol-wise?” or “What are normal cholesterol levels?” please don’t keep the information to yourself! Encourage close family members to speak to their doctor about taking a cholesterol test, and help to spread awareness amongst your friends. If you want to start lowering your cholesterol today, check out and download our Cholesterol Starter Kit.
*Flora ProActiv contains plant sterols. A daily intake of 1.5-2.4g plant sterols can lower cholesterol by 7-10% in 2-3 weeks as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle including plenty of fruit and vegetables. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. As coronary heart disease has multiple risk factors, more than one may need to be improved to reduce overall risk.
BNF suggested references:
- NHS Digital. High cholesterol. (accessed 21/05/2019)
- British Heart Foundation. High Cholesterol – Causes, Symptoms & Treatments.
- NHS Digital. Health Survey for England 2017. (accessed 21/05/2019)
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Clinical Knowledge Summaries: Lipid modification – CVD prevention. (accessed 21/05/2019)
- British Nutrition Foundation (2019). CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: Diet, Nutrition and Emerging Risk Factors, 2nd Edition. Wiley Blackwell.
The British Nutrition Foundation has reviewed the accuracy of the scientific content of this page in May 2019 (please note this does not include linked pages). The Foundation does not endorse any brands or products. For more information about the Foundation, please visit www.nutrition.org.uk
This information has been included in good faith, but is for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as a guarantee. The nutritional facts and statements on this site are designed for educational and resource purpose sonly, not being substitutes for professional advice. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always check with your GP or healthcare professional.