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Is an HDL Cholesterol Level of 125 Too High?

By Jake Wayne ; Updated August 14, 2017

It used to be that nutritionists believed that all cholesterol was bad for you. According to Walter Willett, Harvard nutritionist and author of "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy," science now understands that there are different kinds of cholesterol. One type, HDL cholesterol, contributes to your circulatory health by absorbing the harmful cholesterol.

Cholesterol Basics

Dr. Mehmet Oz, author of "You: The Owner's Manual" reports that there are three kinds of cholesterol. LDL cholesterol clumps in the bloodstream. This clogs arteries, leading to high blood pressure and heart disease. HDL cholesterol helps clean the bloodstream of the harmful LDL cholesterol. Triglycerides, the third cholesterol, is produced in response to blood glucose. It's only tangentially related to circulatory health.

HDL Cholesterol

HDL cholesterol is the "good" cholesterol, according to both Willett and Oz. In terms of heart health, it's impossible for your HDL count to be too high.

Test Results

According to information posted at, a healthy HDL count is anything above 40 mg of HDL per deciliter of blood. A score over 60 mg per deciliter is ideal. Most charts for healthy HDL counts do not include an upper limit for good HDL. However, a score of 125 is more than twice the ideal amount. reports that although HDL levels this high aren't in and of themselves dangerous, they may indicate one of two disorders.


Hyperlipidemia is overproduction of blood lipids, including HDL cholesterol. According to, hyperlipidemia sometimes has neither noticeable symptoms nor deleterious health effects. However, it can lead to a rash-like series of lesions and large fat deposits in the ankles and other joints.

Non-Insulin Diabetes

Diabetes, impaired function of the pancreas, sometimes manifests with increased levels of serum cholesterols. An HDL level of 125 could indicate incipient or actual type 2 diabetes. This is especially likely if triglyceride levels are also high.

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