High-density lipoproteins (HDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and triglycerides work together to form your total cholesterol level. HDL is like the natural cholesterol vacuum because it transports extra LDL cholesterol and triglycerides from your arteries and sends them to the liver to be eliminated.
But while most people focus on reducing bad LDL, you still need to watch your good HDL cholesterol levels. Making changes to your diet is the first line of defense for anyone looking to raise their HDL cholesterol.
Following a high-fat, whole-food-focused diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, helps improve overall cholesterol by raising HDL. Although it is possible to increase HDL levels through diet alone, the best results will also come from incorporating exercise.
A study shows that consuming about four tablespoons of olive oil a day for six weeks helps increase HDL cholesterol in older people.
Eating oily fish 2-3 times a week noticeably improves your total cholesterol level. Salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, and trout are some of the best fatty fish for raising HDL levels.
Cocoa and Dark Chocolate
Studies show that cocoa flavanols have favorable effects on HDL cholesterol and cardiometabolic health. Instead of eating chocolates with added sugar or sweetened hot chocolate, stir some fresh cocoa powder into your morning oatmeal, smoothie, or yogurt. Also, choose dark chocolate with at least 75% cocoa content for optimal benefits.
The monounsaturated fatty acids in avocados reduce LDL while increasing HDL. According to a 2018 studyeating an avocado a day for five weeks while following a moderate-fat diet improved total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, and HDL.
Legumes and Beans
Beans and legumes are rich in soluble fiber, plant sterols and stanols which help improve the LDL/HDL ratio. Sterols and stanols are also found in quinoa, oat bran, almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.
Fruits and vegetables
Nutritionists will always encourage increased consumption of fruits and vegetables because of their dietary fiber, nutrient, mineral and vitamin content.
Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, pears, and oranges, are the best foods to raise your HDL.
Whole grains, such as oats, quinoa, barley, brown rice, and whole wheat, are rich in beta-glucan, which traps bad cholesterol and eliminates it from the body.
A varied diet should contain whole grains to balance LDL, HDL and triglycerides. Oats and barley can make a hearty porridge for breakfast and contribute to the recommended 3 grams of beta-glucan per day to support heart health.
Adding 40 g/day of soy protein to a diet already low in animal protein may increase HDL cholesterol in adults with otherwise normal cholesterol levels. However, choose minimally processed soy products such as tofu, tempeh, or miso.
Note from The Fitness Freak
After a certain threshold, higher HDL levels offer no additional protection. However, having low HDL levels or less than 40 mg/dL is unhealthy. Certain foods raise your “good” or HDL cholesterol, such as oats, beans, legumes, olive oil, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and berries.
Increase HDL Cholesterol Levels Like a Pro
Even when you eat heart-healthy, HDL-rich foods, you may experience different results than other people who eat the same meals. It’s a common misconception that everyone reacts to food the same way.
For example, if your friend feels energized after eating oatmeal for breakfast, you may not feel the same way. Your blood sugar response to food is personal and largely depends on how fast you eat, your hormonal cycle, stress, microbiome, meal complexity, and other factors.
It also explains why there is no one-size-fits-all diet for cholesterol, and why the effectiveness of diets contradict each other. Therefore, advice from HealthifyMe’s in-house dieticians, nutritionists and fitness trainers allows you to make informed choices for the nutrition that’s right for you.
Most nutritional advice is out of necessity and applies to everyone, such as drinking enough water or eating more vegetables. But when it comes to more specific strategies, like how much to eat to maintain HDL cholesterol and what you should eat, you should discuss appropriate diet plans with your doctor or nutritionist.
Pro trainers will adjust nutrition plans based on your current HDL levels, calorie budget, regular activity, and dietary preferences.
The app’s simple yet sophisticated user interface includes tracking calories, preparing a sleep schedule, and counting calories burned after a workout. You can also track your total steps taken by syncing your Google Fit app with the HealthifyMe app.
Consultation calls and AI Ria nutritionist provide daily and weekly information to track your progress. All of these premium services cater to various age groups.
Several factors affect HDL cholesterol levels, including diet, physical activity, family history, genetics, and more. Heart-healthy foods easily raise your HDL cholesterol levels while controlling your “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. However, raising HDL cholesterol doesn’t have to be about cutting your favorite foods out of your diet.
Learn how to raise your HDL cholesterol and improve your heart health with the HealthifyMe app. As you strive to balance your work and personal life, HealthifyMe coaches plan heart-healthier meals and workout routines.