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HDL Cholesterol Levels: How to Increase Good Cholesterol

  • High-density lipoprotein makes up HDL cholesterol levels and is also known as the good cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein, on the other hand, makes up , and is known as the bad form of cholesterol. This makes it important to levels, especially if you are at risk of developing high cholesterol or have already been diagnosed with high cholesterol
  • HDL fights against plaque buildup in arteries, so promoting the increase in this good cholesterol can help improve blood circulation
  • Some of the most effective ways of reducing cholesterol and total cholesterol levels is to maintain a healthy weight, increase physical activity and eat low cholesterol, or heart healthy diet


Cholesterol is a white and waxy fat substance that is located in all cells of human body and is required for several bodily processes, such as helping to build the cells and playing a role in the production of sex hormones. Cholesterol is very important, even essential for the body, however too much of it increases a risk of having a heart disease. Large amounts of cholesterol that may be unnecessary for the body can lead to plaque build-up and therefore can cause blockage in any artery. This can lead to heart attack or stroke as the blood supply becomes diminished.

Increase Good Cholesterol

Most of the cholesterol in the body is produced in the liver from fats in person’s diet. The liver produces cholesterol and attaches it to carrier molecules made of protein and fat, also called lipoproteins. There are 2 main forms of lipoproteins – High-Density-Lipoproteins (HDL) and Low-Density-Lipoproteins (LDL). The HDL form is often called “good cholesterol” and adequate levels help to ensure removal of cholesterol from the bloodstream and its return back to the liver. HDL is much “sturdier” than LDL and helps prevent the possibility of cholesterol becoming part of plaque inside the arteries. Because of this, HDL fights potentially dangerous arterial blockage, clot formation and inflammation. In other words high HDL decreases circulating levels of cholesterol, and reduces the chance of it being deposited in the arteries. Low HDL level (shown on a blood test available for less than 40 mg/dL – for men and less than 50 mg/dL – for women) indicates that there is not enough of HDL in blood, which increases risk of a cardiovascular disease. There are several factors that cause people to have lower HDL cholesterol levels including smoking cigarettes, eating a lot of saturated fat products (snack foods like chips, processed meats, deep fried foods, fast foods, sweets (cakes, candy, ice cream and pastries), eating foods with cheaper oils such as palm oil and coconut oil), and especially being overweight and inactive. A person is considered to be at risk of heart disease if at least two of the factors listed below apply to him:

• Smoking of cigarettes
• Family history of early heart diseases
• Low HDL cholesterol (below 40)
High blood pressure
• Age (over 45 – for men, over 55 – for women)
• Being overweight

The higher a persons HDL level, the lower is the risk of artery and heart disease. People who are exercising regularly and do not smoke cigarettes usually have higher HDL Cholesterol levels. Women generally have higher HDL levels than men do as estrogen increases HDL cholesterol level. A person should keep HDL as high as possible. The best ways to raise HDL and keep it high are:

• Healthy body weight maintenance

• Physical activity

• Healthy food (reduced intake of saturated fat, sweets, increasing fiber with fruits, vegetables and whole grains)

The recommendations of the National Heart Foundation suggest that all adults over 45 years old should have a regular blood cholesterol test every 2 years. The cholesterol test is a simple blood test that is taken after a period of 12 hours fasting. Such tests show the total level of cholesterol as well as HDL and LDL cholesterol and other fats called triglycerides. A person should aim to have total cholesterol levels below 200 and HDL levels over 50 (mg/dL).

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.

4 Responses to “HDL Cholesterol Levels: How to Increase Good Cholesterol”

  1. 1
    carmen Says:
    Dear Viola, you did not say how tall are you. it seems to me that you are in a bad physically condition and you may have gained a lot weigth after childbirth. First, you should talk to your doctor seriously and have a complete physical exam perform includeing also an EKG or an Echocardiogram in order to rule out any problems with your heart. You are very young and you should not have heart pains. The hearth pain seems to be caused by exercion to any kind of exercise effort due to your physical deconditioning after not exercising anymore since 2008. Therefore, you need to start a health regimen that contains exercising, eathing healthy such as fruits, veggies, lots of fiber in order to increases your HDL levels and maintaining a healthy BMI. Ask your doctor for a nutritionist consult and if you can get into a weight loss program exercises. You are not going to die at this moment due to your young age, but if you continoue in this path of cough potatoe then the future looks grim: Diabetes, Hypertension (seems to me you have it, since the doctor give you a pill), Hearth Failure and many other problems brought by your health behavior. Remember, you need to be healthy for your two year old child.
  2. 2
    Viola Anuli Says:
    I am just 27years weighing 140Kg. i started having problem with my heart rythm, panting whenever i do little thing and also i always have swollen feet withh pains in the heart. I use to be very active in sports but all of sudden i stopped after giving birth in 2008. my doctor placed me on medication and diet, my HDL is 25.2 md/dl, total cholesterol is 89.2mg/dl and LDL is 65mg/dl. please what do i do to increase my HDL, cut down my weight and re-gain back my fitness/strenght? does it mean i will die or i will not live long? please i would be very greatful if you would help me. thanks
  3. 3
    ProfNutraLegacy Says:
    Dear Wade, Taking Niacin and fish oil are certainly a positive step for helping control high blood fat levels. Needless to say, you should do your best to avoid a diet high in fatty foods. You should completely avoid any foods with hydrogenated fats such as margarine. Any type of exercise, depending on what is safe for your health level, is also a great way to normalize blood fats. Regarding foods in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes like lentils, kidney beans, etc., are a natural way to help bring cholesterol levels down. Oats and oat bran will also help do the trick. Any grains that are rich in fiber, meaning those that are not refined, will help your body eliminate excess fatty acids which indirectly help lower cholesterol. All of these practices can also help elevate HDL levels. Spices are an extremely positive way to balance blood fats and improve circulation. Consider using high levels of garlic, turmeric, and cayenne pepper (be careful not to create a burn). There are also certain concentrated herbal foods that help. Consider artichoke extract, lecithin, wheat grass or barley grass and gum guggals. When dealing with keeping your circulation healthy, it is best to use a multi-faceted approach. But please remember, it all starts with proper diet and exercise. In good health, Prof Nutralegacy
  4. 4
    wade Says:
    I'm looking for food that are good for your good cholesterol, I'm taking Niacin, and gemfibercil, I went to the doctor my good cholestral 20 so i'm looking for food to help raise my good with out raiseing my bad I also take 2000mg of fish oil 3 x daily if you have any suggestions on what I can do please mail me back Thank You ! Wade