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What is HDL?

Unlike the “bad” low-density lipoprotein particles (LDL) which deliver fat molecules to cells, HDL is the “good” cholesterol that removes extra cholesterol from cells and reduces plaque buildup in your arteries and carries extra cholesterol back to your liver where it is expelled. The good balance between HDL and LDL helps reduce your risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

Our blood test reports HDL-C, the average amount of cholesterol estimated to be contained within HDL particles.

Risks for low HDL

  • Obesity.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Unhealthy diet.
  • Inflammation.
  • Smoking.

Intervention tips for increasing HDL

Many natural ways and medications to lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) levels can also increase your good cholesterol (HDL) levels high. Lowering LDL can improve HDL/LDL ratio and reduce disease risk.

  • Healthy diet.

    • Avoid high saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, or simple carbs.
    • Eat monounsaturated fats from foods like olives and olive oil, canola oil, nuts, pecans, and avocados
    • Use polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3s.
    • Eat more soluble fiber and probiotics to promote gut health.
    • Consider plant sterols and stanols (plant cholesterol) naturally found in vegetable oils.
  • Cholesterol-lowering supplements.

    • Omega-3 supplements.
    • Niacin (vitamin B3).
    • Psyllium: a form of soluble fiber.
    • Coenzyme Q10.
  • Lifestyle changes.

    • No smoking.
    • Regular exercise.
    • Lose weight.
    • Reduce alcohol consumption.
  • Control high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Medications.

    • Statins to reduce cholesterol production.
    • Niaspan: a niacin-based prescription drug with high potency.
    • Zetia to lower absorption of dietary cholesterol.
    • Probucol and vitamin E to prevent LDL oxidation and atherosclerosis.

Further reading

  1. Wikipedia contributors. (2020, November 11). High-density lipoprotein. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:18, November 25, 2020, from
  2. 11 Foods to Increase Your HDL. (2020). Retrieved 25 November 2020, from
  3. Publishing, H. (2020). On call: Niacin for cholesterol – Harvard Health. Retrieved 25 November 2020, from
  4. Kraft, A. (2020). 8 Ways to Raise HDL Cholesterol | Everyday Health. Retrieved 25 November 2020, from
  5. Emily M. Ambizas, N. (2020). OTC Supplements for the Management of High Cholesterol. Retrieved 25 November 2020, from
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