DIET AND FITNESS:

Foods That Raise HDL --- Good
Cholesterol

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January 16, 2013, last updated January 20, 2015
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist




Think all cholesterol is bad? Think again. There are actually
two types of cholesterol in your body fighting it out – low-
density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and
high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (good
cholesterol).

HDL is a friendly avenger, patrolling your bloodstream and
removing bad cholesterol from the places it shouldn’t be.
High levels of HDL are a good thing – HDL reduces your risk
of heart disease. And what you eat could really make a
difference to your good cholesterol’s fighting powers. Did
you know that certain foods are great for boosting your HDL
levels?  

What’s So Great About HDL?

Cholesterol isn’t always the bad guy, despite what you hear
on the TV and the news. Cholesterol is actually an essential
fat and useful for every cell in your body but it does have a
dangerous side.

HDL cholesterol acts in a number of ways to help the body
rather than harm it. HDL looks for and removes bad
cholesterol from your body, and it reduces and recycles bad
cholesterol by taking it to the liver for reprocessing.

HDL also helps keep the inner walls of your blood vessels
clean and healthy, cutting the risk of atherosclerosis, a
condition that can cause heart attack and stroke. Having high
levels of HDL and low levels of LDL cholesterol is the best
place to be for your heart.  

How High Should Your HDL Cholesterol Be?


A cholesterol test will reveal your HDL levels – greater than
60mg per deciliter (mg/dL) is high, which is good, and levels
below 40mg/dL are low.

Unfortunately low levels of HDL are all too common. In a
2009 Spanish study from Merck Sharp & Dohme de España
in Madrid, 17.5 percent of the elderly population of the
country had low HDL levels, and half the people in a 2007
Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School,
Boston study had low HDL levels.

If you have low levels of HDL cholesterol you are more at
risk of heart disease. Thankfully there are steps you can take
to boost your HDL and cut your risk. You can exercise, stop
smoking and drop your weight.

And you can choose foods from the list below to help avoid
heart disease and keep your HDL levels topped up.  

Foods That Raise HDL Levels



























1. Eat Fish to Raise Your HDL Levels

Fish contains oils that do great things for your heart –
omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are essential fats that you
need for optimum health, and for your HDL levels.

Several studies have discovered that fish oil is a powerful
supporter of good cholesterol – raising HDL to lower your
risk of heart disease.  Fish oil can also thin the blood, lower
the risk of arrhythmia, and improve the tone of your blood
vessels.

A 2002 study from The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural
University, Frederiksberg, Denmark demonstrated 4g of fish
oil a day taken by diabetic patients raised HDL as compared
to a dose of corn oil.

Fish may also be combined with plant sterols like beta-
sitosterol and -sitostanol (extracts that are commonly added
to spreads like Promise Activ or Benecol) for HDL benefits.

A 2008 study from the University of Newcastle, Australia
found fish oil in combination with plant sterols significantly
raised HDL cholesterol in people with bad cholesterol
profiles.  

2.
Calcium Can Help Raise HDL Levels

Calcium, found in dairy products like milk, can help you raise
your HDL but only if you are a postmenopausal woman,
apparently.

A 2002 study from the University of Auckland, New Zealand
of postmenopausal women saw that 1g of calcium citrate a
day significantly improved levels of HDL as compared to LDL
cholesterol.

Studies have shown that men and pre-menopausal women
are not as affected.  

3.
Fenugreek for Good HDL  

Fenugreek is a food spice and medicine popular in the Middle
East, and it can apparently help to raise HDL levels.
Fenugreek at 1g a day raised HDL levels significantly in a
2001 study by Jaipur Diabetes and Research Centre, India.
Add the spicy flavor to cooking to give your heart health a
boost.  

4.
Eat Red Yeast Rice as a HDL Booster

Red yeast rice is a substance traditionally used in China,
made by fermenting yeast over rice. Red yeast rice is said to
lower bad cholesterol levels and can also raise HDL. A 1999
study from the Department of Medicine, UCLA School of
Medicine, Los Angeles looked at 83 people for eight weeks
and saw positive changes in the cholesterol levels of the
subjects. Be careful if you use red yeast rice as similar side
effects to statin drugs could occur.  

5.
Could Chocolate be Good for Your HDL Levels?

While chocolate has somewhat of a bad press in terms of its
levels of fat and sugar,  a cocoa-rich snack could in fact
improve your levels of HDL cholesterol .  This was the
conclusion of 2006 study carried out by the University of
California, and a 2007 study from Food and Health R&D
Laboratories, Meiji Seika Kaisha Ltd, Saitama, Japan.

The benefits of cocoa in terms of cholesterol need to be
more fully studied but you could include a square or two of
good quality, dark chocolate in your diet for heart health.  

6.
Drink Cranberry Juice for Increased HDL

Cranberry juice has been shown to increase HDL in men,
according to a 2006 study from Laval University, Québec,
Canada. The study looked at 30 men who drank a low-
calorie cranberry juice cocktail. Researchers noted that the
daily drink of cranberry juice was linked with an increase in
HDL cholesterol in men who were abdominally obese.  

7.
Does Alcohol Help HDL?

Drinking more than one or two units a day is certainly not
beneficial to your heart but it seems one or two drinks can
actually help your heart by increasing your HDL levels. This is
according to experts such as those at Rockefeller University,
New York in a 2000 study which showed moderate alcohol
intake is associated with increased HDL cholesterol and lower
atherosclerosis risk. However, the links and the metabolic
action are uncertain and these results are not a license to
knock back the shots.  

8.
Eat Whole Grains for a HDL Boost

Fiber, found in vegetables and whole grains such as oatmeal,
oat bran and whole-wheat products, can help increase HDL
levels and lower LDL.

A 2012 study by the Children's Hospital Oakland Research
Institute, Oakland, California showed a high fiber
supplement bar increased HDL cholesterol in a two week
trial. Fill your diet with whole grains and vegetables for a
similar heart-healthy effect on HDL.

9.
Eating Berries Raises HDL

Eating berries can raise your HDL in a very short time. A
2008 study from Finland found that participants who ate a
moderate amount of berries for 8 weeks saw their HDL levels
increase by 5.2% on average.

The study, led by Dr. Iris Erlund of the Biomarker Laboratory
of the National Public Health Institute of Finland, examined
the effects of berries on the cardiovascular profiles of 72
middle-aged people with some cardiovascular-related
problems such as high blood pressure. Each of the
participants ate 2 portions of berries per day, one after lunch
and one after dinner.

The type of berries included were strawberry puree,
lingonberries, bilberries, currants, chokeberries and
raspberry juice.







Related
: High Cholesterol -Causes and Top 10 Natural
Remedies/ VLDL-The Other Cholesterol / Foods That Shrink
Your Waist  / Foods That Reduce Blood Pressure  /
Amaranth-The Ancient Grain That Lowers Cholesterol / Red
Yeast Rice Lowers Cholesterol -Comprehensive Review /
Coffee Helps You Lose Weight
/ How My Heart Attack Felt -
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Sugar-the Disease Connection
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Eating whole grains high in fiber can raise your HDL levels.
whole grain cereal