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HDL Cholesterol Level Chart: Symptoms and Causes
HDL 119: Can Cholesterol Levels Be Too High?
HDL Cholesterol Level Chart: Symptoms and Causes

HDL 119: Can Cholesterol Levels Be Too High?

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on May 26, 2023
6 min

Have you recently had your cholesterol tested? Were your results 119mg/dL and you’re wondering what that means? We’ve taken a look at what an HDL result of 119mg/dL means for your health and how you can get HDL levels back within the optimal range.

What Does an HDL 119mg/dL Mean?

HDL cholesterol levels of 119mg/dL are considered high.

HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, is considered good cholesterol. An HDL cholesterol level of 119mg/dL is above optimal and can increase your risk of coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.

The table below shows different HDL test results and whether they are good for your health.

HDL Cholesterol LevelsMg/dL
Optimal  ✅61–99 
High ✅100<

How Often Is It Recommended to Measure HDL Cholesterol Levels?

For men between the ages of 45 and 65 and women aged 55 to 65, it is recommended that you get your cholesterol levels checked every 1–2 years1. Once you are over 65 years old, cholesterol tests should be done annually.

You should have your first cholesterol tests between the ages 9–11 and then continue to get them checked at least every 5 years after that. Keeping a check on your cholesterol levels, including your HDL levels, is important for your health.

You can monitor your cholesterol test results with a heart health app. Cardi Health is one such app that is designed to promote heart health. It provides a space for users to monitor all aspects of their heart health, including blood pressure, LDL, and HDL levels. It also offers educational content that is specific to different heart conditions.

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Key benefits
  • Personalized activity plan to suit the user
  • Personalized nutrition plan
  • Takes into account dietary requirements, preferences, and allergies
  • Action plans generated from the tracking tool
  • Real-time insights into your heart’s health performance
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Start Cardi.Health Quiz

On top of this, the app offers user-friendly experience to motivate you to boost heart health through lifestyle changes and integrates with other health apps allowing users to easily communicate their progress with healthcare providers.

What Causes High HDL Cholesterol Levels?

There are a few ways your HDL levels can reach a point where they stop being protective and become dangerous. At this point, you are at a higher risk of heart attack, heart disease, and other conditions.

We’ve highlighted a few ways your HDL levels might get excessively high below.

#1 Eating unhealthy foods

Much like with raised LDL cholesterol, what you eat can also affect your HDL levels. Diets that are high in saturated fats, refined carbs, and alcohol can raise your LDL and HDL cholesterol.

If your doctor suspects that your 119mg/dL HDL levels are caused by your diet, they will likely suggest making lifestyle changes first. This is to find out whether your high HDL levels are caused by your diet or other factors.

#2 Some medications

High levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol can actually be a result of certain medications. These medications include some anticonvulsants2 and estrogen-replacement therapy3 medication.

If your doctor suspects that your medications are causing your HDL levels to be above 119mg/dL, they may discuss dosage changes and other ways to reduce your HDL levels and your risk of heart disease while also keeping you on the medications you need.

#3 Your genetics

For some people, high HDL levels are just a part of their genetic makeup. If other people in your family have found that their high-density lipoprotein levels are high, too, you may already suspect this is the cause.

If you find you have high levels of HDL cholesterol and other family members have been diagnosed with heart disease before the age of 60 or died of a heart attack, your doctor may refer you to a specialist.

Other causes of high HDL levels

  • Menopause: Older women may experience an increase in HDL levels due to the changes they go through during menopause.
  • Illness and inflammation: Some infections and chronic inflammation could be the cause of an HDL level of 119mg/dL or more.
  • Hypothyroidism: People who have an underactive thyroid are more likely to have high levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

How to Reduce HDL Cholesterol to Optimal Levels

If you have high HDL cholesterol, you will need to make some changes to reduce it. 119mg/dL is above the optimal levels, but below, we have summarized a few lifestyle changes you can make to reduce it.

#1 Eat a clean diet

Eating a whole, healthy, and balanced diet is one of the best ways that you can go about reducing your cholesterol level and, by extension, your risk of heart disease. It is well-known that a diet high in saturated and trans fats, refined carbs, and alcohol can raise HDL levels, so changing your diet can help reduce it.

It is important to get enough fiber in your diet4 if you have high cholesterol. Soluble fiber is known to help reduce the absorption of cholesterol in your blood.

You can find fiber in any whole grain as well as fruits and vegetables. All of these foods have a combination of different kinds of fiber and are essential for a healthy diet. If you think you’re not getting enough fiber, you could also add a fiber supplement to your diet to keep the optimal total cholesterol level in your blood.

You should also ensure you get enough healthy fats in your diet. While research suggests that monounsaturated fats do not lower HDL cholesterol, there is evidence5 that polyunsaturated fats could be useful in reducing the HDL in your blood.

Eating a balanced, clean, and healthy diet is a good strategy for disease control and is suggested for its various health advantages, including the ability to lower high cholesterol.

#2 Get enough exercise

Leading a sedentary life is known to cause high cholesterol. If your HDL is above 119mg/dL, you will likely be recommended to increase your physical activity. For good health, it is suggested that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. This can easily be split into 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

30 minutes of exercise for five days a week could look like anything from a daily morning walk, going to a gym class, or cycling to and from work.

It is important to note that exercise is usually recommended to reduce LDL levels, as it can increase your HDL. We recommend speaking with your doctor to get the balance right and find out which exercises are best for keeping your HDL in the optimal range.

#3 Drink more water

Drinking water is necessary for good overall health. There is also research6 linking water intake to lipid profile in humans. The research suggests that a lower intake of water can be linked to unhealthy blood cholesterol. This means that drinking more water could help keep your HDL cholesterol within a healthy range, decreasing your risk of heart disease.

Can too much HDL cholesterol cause health problems?

Yes, HDL levels above the optimal level can increase the risk of many health problems. Both too little and too much HDL cholesterol can cause problems for your heart.

What foods should I eat to reduce high HDL cholesterol levels?

To reduce high HDL cholesterol, you should eat more fiber and polyunsaturated fats, which have been shown to promote healthier HDL levels. You can lower your cholesterol with foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and polyunsaturated fats can be found in fatty fish, sunflower seeds, and flaxseeds.

Can HDL cholesterol be too high?

HDL levels can be too high, which makes it lose its protective benefits. An HDL level of 119mg/dL or more is considered too high.

  1. An overview. Cholesterol Test. (2021). Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cholesterol-test/about/pac-20384601
  2. T. Nikolaos, G. Stylianos, N. Chryssoula, P. Irini, M. Christos, T. Dimitrios, P. Konstantinos, T. Antonis. (2004). A research. The effect of long-term antiepileptic treatment on serum cholesterol (TC, HDL, LDL) and triglyceride levels in adult epileptic patients on monotherapy. National Center for Biotechnology Information: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15039653/
  3. Victor Guetta, Richard O. CannonIII. (1996). Research article. Cardiovascular Effects of Estrogen and Lipid-Lowering Therapies in Postmenopausal Women. AHA/ASA Journals: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.cir.93.10.1928
  4. Lisa Brown, Bernard Rosner, Walter W Willett, Frank M Sacks. (1999). Journal Article. Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9925120/
  5. Scott M. Grundy. (1989). Journal article. Monounsaturated Fatty Acids and Cholesterol Metabolism: Implications for Dietary Recommendations. The Journal of Nutrition: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2649645/
  6. Paul F Jacques, Gail Rogers, Jodi Dunmeyer Stookey, Erica T Perrier. (2021). Journal article. Water Intake and Markers of Hydration Are Related to Cardiometabolic Risk Biomarkers in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Cross-Sectional Analysis. The Journal of Nutrition: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34383920/ 
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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