Can You Raise Your HDL
With Good Cholesterol Foods?

HDL Cholesterol And Heart Health

Can good cholesterol foods affect HDL levels?

There is no shortage of internet articles touting the benefits of certain HDL raising foods.

Remember that HDL is the good kind of cholesterol. It picks up excess LDL cholesterol in your blood and carries it back to the liver for disposal. Therefore if a person’s HDL is low excess LDL cholesterol is left in the blood stream where it is deposited on artery walls promoting coronary heart disease.

A number of studies indicate that even small reductions in HDL can significantly increase one’s likelihood of developing heart disease. One such study showed that every 1% increase in HDL is connected with a 2% reduction in coronary heart disease.

Other experts suggest that for every 1 mg/dL increase of HDL there is a 3% decreased risk of developing coronary heart disease.

So what is a healthy HDL level? For men the HDL level should be above 40 mg/dL. For women the level is a bit higher, 50 mg/dL.

But the question remains…

Is It Possible To Raise HDL With Good Cholesterol Foods?

As mentioned you can find numerous articles on the internet listing good cholesterol foods. Often at the top of the list is raw onions. But when you look for scientific articles recommending good cholesterol foods you have a more difficult time. It seems there is little research supporting the idea that certain foods directly raise HDL.

The lack of scientific data recommending certain HDL raising foods does not necessarily imply that there are no good cholesterol foods. It may simply indicate that we need more research. In an article appearing in the New England Journal of medicine you can find this quote…
The Hopkins researchers report that existing strategies to prevent heart disease have not addressed the best means to raise HDL cholesterol and instead have focused heavily on lowering LDL cholesterol, which leads to plaque formation and narrowing of the arteries that can cause heart attack.
Click here for a good discussion on raising HDL.

There is one food that research has shown to raise HDL... alcohol. Regular (moderate) alcohol consumption does raise HDL cholesterol. But there are limits. One study indicated that HDL cholesterol levels rose with increased alcohol consumption until about 450 ml per day. After that point HDL cholesterol was reduced.

Other problems associated with drinking may make alcohol consumption a less than desirable choice for improving one’s cholesterol profile. But drinking one glass (or two for men) of alcohol a day can improve HDL and, therefore, heart health.

Another substance that may be listed among good cholesterol foods is niacin. Niacin is a B vitamin (B-3). Though niacin is not a food it is ingested in the foods we eat. It is important for…
  • Converting carbohydrates into sugar
  • Keeping the nervous system healthy
  • Supporting the digestion system
  • Keeping skin, hair, and eyes healthy
Niacin also raises HDL.
It is estimated that niacin therapy can raise HDL by 15-35%. A further bonus to niacin is that it also lowers LDL and triglycerides. Though all of us need sufficient niacin (as well as other B vitamins) it is important to note that treatment levels of niacin are much higher than normal intakes. These higher doses can cause uncomfortable side effects. Talk to your doctor before supplementing with unusually high levels of niacin.

For more on niacin and HDL therapy please click here.

For a high quality B-complex please use this link.

Are There Other Good Cholesterol Foods?

Indirectly… yes.

For example, people with high triglycerides usually have low HDL. This relationship is rather well documented. Further, the combination of high triglycerides and low HDL is a strong indicator for increased risk of heart disease and myocardial infarction (heart attack).
However, what is less certain is whether lowering triglycerides will actually raise HDL.
Perhaps the important application here is not just about raising HDL. High triglycerides increase one’s risk for heart disease. Further, triglyceride levels normally respond well to dietary adjustments. If your triglycerides are high, regardless of your HDL levels get them down.

Click here for more on triglycerides and dietary adjustments.

Good cholesterol foods don’t necessarily have to raise HDL. Remember that HDL removes excess LDL from the blood and transports it for excretion. That is… the reason we want sufficient HDL is because we want to get rid of the LDL. There are good cholesterol foods that help lower LDL. By eating more of the foods that lower LDL we are accomplishing a very significant goal in promoting heart health.

Heart Health Note:

A lot of research indicates that the presence of LDL in the blood promotes atherosclerosis. However, it may not be merely the existence of LDL in the blood that causes the problem. Rather the studies indicate it is actually the oxidation of LDL that promotes atherosclerosis.

Therefore it is terribly important to eat foods high in antioxidants. That is precisely why many people supplement with vitamin-E. However when vitamin-E gets depleted in its fight against free radicals it may actually promote atherosclerosis. Getting a complex of antioxidants can help. Antioxidants support and revitalize each other as they become depleted. This is especially true with vitamin-E and CoQ10.

Click here for more on vitamin-E, CoQ10, and LDL oxidation.

Click here for a high potency CoQ10 supplement at a very reasonable price.

What Are The Experts Saying?

Instead of promoting certain foods that raise HDL as good cholesterol foods, researchers normally suggest a diet that helps balance cholesterol profiles. Limit your intake of saturated fats. Avoid trans-fats at all costs. Use monosaturated oils such as olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil instead of the saturated varieties. And consume foods high in Omega-3.
What else? Just what you may expect.
Get plenty of exercise. Regular, moderate exercise has been shown to increase HDL by 3-9%.

Keep your weight under control. It has been suggested that losing 6 pounds for some people may raise their HDL 1 mg/dL. How do you lose weight? Normally with diet and exercise. Not only will losing the weight increase your HDL levels, but as mentioned above, the exercise will also increase your HDL. And the better diet will help balance your cholesterol/triglyceride profile.

Of course, don’t smoke. Smoking lowers HDL and promotes blood clotting. In addition, smoking damages your arteries and causes a number of other heart related (and non-heart related) problems.

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