HDL is a GOOD type of cholesterol. It works like a vacuum cleaner. It takes away the bad LDL cholesterol to your liver, where it is broken down and used by the body.
Higher levels of HDL are generally associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. However, it should be noted, there is some evidence that those with very high levels of HDL e.g. above 2.5 mmol may occasionally be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
5 ways you can improve your HDL Cholesterol right NOW
1. Start consuming more "Good Fats'
Good fats may assist in increasing your HDL levels either directly or indirectly e.g. by decreasing your LDL levels.
Nuts, fish, salmon, tuna, plants are some examples.
Some practical examples include:
- Use olive oil or extra virgin olive oil for cooking and dressing instead of other oils
- Add fish to our diet 1-2 times per week. For example, salmon, trout, and tuna may assist in the amount of good fats you are having.
- Consume ground flax or flax seed oil - these also contain good omega-3 fats for those who do not eat fish
- Try not to use too much oil (in general) as oil can be high in calories
- Nuts, such as un-salted brazil nuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts etc
- Eat more avocados. They are high in fiber and improve cholesterol.
2. Lose some weight
Always easier 'said' than done!
If your Fit3d Body Scan Results do not have you in a green zone for Body Fat %, Waist Circumference, and Body Shape Rating, weight loss and fat loss will likely help you lower your Triglyceride levels.
We have previously written articles to assist you in weight/body fat loss. These can be viewed here:
3. Include more fiber in your diet
Fiber can help decrease LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol.
Examples of high fiber foods include:
- Brown rice, oats, whole grain bread,
- Fruits such as prunes, apples, pears etc
- Leafy vegetables such as spinach, silver beet, brussels spouts
- Beans and lentils
4. Minimise trans fats
Trans fats decrease HDL levels
Trans fats can be found in most baked or fried foods. Decreasing the consumption of these foods or 'takeaways' will assist in minimising your trans fats and may increase your HDL.
5. Increase the amount of exercise you do
Exercise can increase the 'good' HDL cholesterol in your body.
Although there is some evidence that high intensity interval training may be the best type of exercise to improve your HDL levels, this is not appropriate for many people (or at least it is not appropriate to start with this type of training). It is best to start slowly and build up the amount of exercise you perform each week. You can read more about exercise for health here:
If you have tried all the the tips above and your HDL levels are still low, you may benefit from seeking the opinion of your GP or a registered dietitian. There may be a genetic reason (or other reason) for your low levels of HDL cholesterol.