You may have heard that HDL cholesterol or high-density cholesterol is good for your health.
This is because it absorbs other types of cholesterol and carries them away from your arteries and back to your liver.
There it eliminates such types for your body.
Having high HDL Cholesterol has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Moreover, research also links it to help reduce the risk of heart diseases.
A number of health experts recommend a minimum blood level of 40 milligrams per deciliter, mg/dl in men and 50 mg/dl in women.
However, LDL, low-density cholesterol, or bad cholesterol is the buildup of plaque in the walls of blood vessels.
As a result, it gets stuck in the narrowed passageway and can cause a heart attack or stroke.
Keep on reading to learn more about HDL cholesterol.
Understanding LDL and HDL Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a lip that is a waxy type of fat and is made by your liver.
However, you can also consume it by eating foods that come from animals.
Moreover, it is transported throughout your body in your blood.
You need cholesterol in your body to:
- produce vitamin D
- help form cell membrane layers
- make certain hormones
- help your liver make bile for digestion
High-density lipoprotein, HDL, and low-density lipoprotein, LDL are two primary types of cholesterol.
On the other hand, very low-density lipoproteins, VLDL, which is the third type of cholesterol.
These are responsible for carrying triglycerides, which is the fat your body stores up and uses for energy between meals.
Learn more about Normal Cholesterol Levels here.
What is the Difference?
HDL cholesterol is considered the “good” cholesterol.
This is because it helps to get other types of cholesterol out of your body.
However, LDL is labeled “bad” cholesterol.
This is because it can build up on your arterial wall and restrict blood flow.
Moreover, this build-up of cholesterol along with plaque or inflammatory deposits can result in atherosclerosis.
Also known as hardening or narrowing of the arteries, atherosclerosis can increase your risk of:
Optimal Levels of HDL Cholesterol
Your doctor can measure cholesterol through a blood test, i.e. lipid panel.
A lipid panel helps to show your cholesterol, HDL levels, LDL levels, VLDL levels, and triglycerides.
Moreover, according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, JACC, the target number which is based on fasting measurements in milligram per deciliter, for HDL Cholesterol are:
||40 or higher
||50 or higher
||Greater than 45
||60 or higher
||60 or higher
||200 or higher
||Less than 40
||Less than 50
Let’s discuss nine healthful ways to raise your HDL cholesterol:
Boosting HDL Cholesterol
The following are the ways through which you can increase your HDL cholesterol:
Olive oil is one of the most healthful fats around.
According to a large analysis of 42 studies, olive oil is the only source of monosaturated fat that helps to reduce heart risk.
Research also indicates olive oil’s heart-healthy effects to increase HDL Cholesterol.
This may be because it contains antioxidants, i.e. polyphenols.
Moreover, extra virgin olive oil has more polyphenol than processed olive oils, though the amount can still vary.
Low Carb or Ketogenic Diet
The low carb and keto diet provide a number of health benefits including weight loss and help to reduce blood sugar levels.
Research also shows that it can help increase HDL cholesterol in those people who tend to have lower levels.
This includes people with:
It is important to note that being physically active is good for your heart health.
Studies indicate that different types of exercises like strength training, high-intensity exercise, and aerobic exercise are effective to raise your HDL cholesterol.
Moreover, review studies also show that exercise can help boost the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of HDL cholesterol.
However, a significant increase in HDL occurs with high-intensity exercise.
Studies indicate that coconut oil can help reduce appetite, increase metabolic rate, and help to protect brain health, among its other benefits.
It appears that coconut oil is a heart-healthy oil.
Moreover, some studies indicate that it helps to raise HDL cholesterol more than other types of fat.
When you lose weight after being overweight or obese, your HDL cholesterol levels will increase.
What’s more, is that this will occur whether weight loss is from:
- calorie-deficit diet,
- carb restriction,
- intermittent fasting,
- weight loss surgery,
- or a combination of diet and exercise
A study with 3,000 Japanese adults with overweight or obese people shows that losing about 1 to 3% of body weight helps to significantly increase HDL cholesterol.
Other Things you can Do
While some other things you can do are:
Smoking tends to increase the risk of a number of health problems like heart disease and lung cancer.
One of its negative effects is the suppression of HDL cholesterol.
Some studies indicate that when you quit smoking, it can help increase your HDL cholesterol levels.
Choose Purple Produce
Consuming purple fruits and vegetables is a great way to increase HDL cholesterol.
Purple produce tends to contain antioxidants: Anthocyanins.
Studies that use anthocyanin extracts indicate that they can help fight inflammation, protect cells from damaging free radicals and potentially raise HDL cholesterol levels.
There are different fruits and vegetables you can add to your diet that are high in anthocyanins. These are:
- red cabbage
- black raspberries
The omega-3 fats in fatty fish help to provide benefits to heart health.
These include a reduction in inflammation and better functioning of the cells that line your arteries.
Some research also indicates that eating fatty fish or consuming fish oil supplements can also help to raise low levels of HDL cholesterol.
Some types of fatty fish that can help raise HDL cholesterol are:
Avoid Artificial Trans Fats
Artificial trans fats have a number of negative health effects due to inflammatory properties.
There are two types of trans fat.
One find occurs naturally in animal products like full-fat dairy.
In contrast, manufacturers create artificial fats which are found in margarine and processed foods.
They do so by adding hydrogen to unsaturated vegetables and seed oils.
These fats are also known as industrial trans fats or partially hydrogenated fats.
In addition to increasing inflammation and contributing to different health concerns, these artificial trans fats may lower HDL cholesterol.
Can your HDL be too High?
Though high levels of HDL is considered positive, acocrding to Lab Tests Online.
However, recent studies indicate that for some people, high levels of HDL may result in a higher risk for coronary artery disease, CAD.
This is in comparision to the people with normal HDL levels.
This can be due to genetic factors.
However, further research can help on this subject.
According to CDC, one should aim for HDL levels of 60mg/dl or above.
It is the only measure in the cholesterol test that has a lower rather than an upper limit.
Some scientists are of the view that genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors can affect the way HDL accumulates in the body.
And how it behaves and that some of these can be harmful to some people.
However, it is still unclear whether this happens and if so, who it affects and why.
While some researchers found that those who recently had a heart attack with high levels of both HDL and C-reactive protein are at a higher risk of having another cardiac event.
Your liver is responsible for producing C-reactive protein when inflammation occurs in the body.
While some experts believe that in certain conditions HDL particles may take on inflammatory properties rather than protecting your body from inflammation.
Authors of a review note that the protective features of HDL not only depend on how much HDL is present but also on the way it behaves in the body.
When to See a Doctor?
According to the American Heart Association, if you are above the age of 20 years of age, you should make sure to get your cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years.
Moreover, your doctor can suggest checking it more often, based on your previous test.
Or in case there is presence of certain other conditions.
However, the AHA does not recommend routine cholesterol screening for those under 20 years of age.
Unless if a person below this age has a family histroy of familiat hypercholesterolemia, FH.
FH is an inherited conditions that can lead to high levels of low-density lipoproten, LDL cholesterol.
HDL or good cholesterol takes the bad cholesterol LDL out of your arteries. It helps to reduce the chances of stroke, heart attack, and coronary artery disease, CAD.
Make sure to seek medical advice or talk to your doctor about how often you should have your cholesterol level tested. Your doctor can also provide recommendations on bossting HDL levles, with the help of diet, exercises, and other lifestyle changes.